Human Immunodeficiency Virus type 1 (HIV-1) and Breastfeeding

Volume 743 of the series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology pp 139-160


B Lymphocyte-Derived Humoral Immune Defenses in Breast Milk Transmission of the HIV-1

  • Laurent BélecAffiliated withSorbonne Paris Cité (Paris V), and Laboratoire de Virologie, Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou, Université Paris Descartes Email author 
  • , Athena P. KourtisAffiliated withDivision of Reproductive Health, NCCDPHP, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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The UNAIDS estimated that more than 370,000 (230,000–510,000) children were infected by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 through mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) worldwide in 2009, with the majority (>90%) occurring in sub-Saharan Africa (a drop of 24% from 5 years earlier) [1]. The majority of MTCT occurs during pregnancy and birth. In addition, postnatal transmission of HIV from HIV-infected mother to her child through prolonged breastfeeding is well recognized, and may account for one-third to half of new infant HIV infections worldwide [2–10]. While studies of maternal or infant antiretroviral prophylaxis during the period of breastfeeding have shown substantial potential for reduction of infant HIV infections [11–14], postnatal virus transmissions may continue to occur even in the setting of optimal antiretroviral prophylaxis. Therefore, development of immunologic strategies to reduce HIV transmission via breast milk remains important to improving survival of infants born to HIV-infected mothers in the developing world.