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November 18, 1992

HIV in Semen

Author Affiliations

Harvard Medical School Boston, Mass

JAMA. 1992;268(19):2651. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490190051026

To the Editor.  —The importance of semen in the transmission of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) was recognized early in the pandemic and proven by the detection of cell-associated and cell-free human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in ejaculates from HIV-seropositive men.1,2 In a more recent larger series, HIV was detected by infectivity assays in the semen of three (21%) of 14 asymptomatic men (Centers for Disease Control [CDC] class II or III) and from eight (40%) of 20 symptomatic (CDC class IV) HIV-positive men.3 This study found no relationship between the detection of HIV in semen and zidovudine therapy or peripheral lymphocyte counts. In a subsequent study4 using the sensitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay of semen from 23 men not receiving zidovudine therapy, semen samples from six (86%) of seven symptomatic patients and 14 (88%) of 16 asymptomatic patients contained HIV. Both of these studies detected HIV