Prevalence of Congenital Cytomegalovirus Infection and Associated Risk of in Utero Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Acquisition in a High-HIV Prevalence Setting, South Africa

Academic Article


  • Background: There is a paucity of data on the burden of congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) infections in low- and middle-income countries, including their association with maternal human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections. We investigated the prevalence of cCMV in a patient population with a high rate of HIV and antiretroviral therapy (ART) use during pregnancy in Soweto, Johannesburg. Methods: Saliva from neonates were screened for cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) at birth. Additional saliva and urine samples were tested within 3 weeks of birth to confirm positive saliva results. HIV PCR testing was done on the whole blood of HIV-exposed neonates. Maternal and neonatal data were extracted from clinical records. Results: Of 2685 neonates screened for cCMV, 828 (31%) were born to HIV-infected women, 95% of whom (790/828) were on ART at delivery. The overall prevalence of cCMV was 2.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.9-3.2), with significantly higher cCMV prevalence in HIV-exposed neonates (5.2%, 95% CI 3.8-6.9) than HIV-unexposed neonates (1.4%, 95% CI 0.9-2.0). The risk of in utero HIV infection was 20-fold greater (odds ratio 20.1, 95% CI 6.09-66.46) in HIV-exposed, cCMV-infected neonates, and this increased risk was not associated with the maternal CD4+ T-cell count or the maternal duration of ART. Conclusions: The prevalence of cCMV in our setting is substantially higher than the global estimate of 0.64%, partly due to the increased susceptibility for cCMV in HIV-exposed neonates. The significantly increased risk of in utero HIV infection in neonates with cCMV indicates that CMV coinfection plays a major role in the residual burden of in utero HIV transmission, even in the era of ART.
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    Author List

  • Pathirana J; Groome M; Dorfman J; Kwatra G; Boppana S; Cutland C; Jones S; Madhi SA
  • Start Page

  • 1789
  • End Page

  • 1796
  • Volume

  • 69
  • Issue

  • 10