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May 1, 1996

DNA Polymerase Chain Reaction for the Diagnosis of Vertical HIV Infection

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics and Program in Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester.

JAMA. 1996;275(17):1360-1361. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530410074037

The prevalence of pediatric human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV) infection has increased rapidly through the vertical transmission of HIV from infected women to their infants. In 1995, a cumulative total of approximately 20 000 children in the United States and 1.5 million children worldwide were infected with HIV.1,2 In the United States, 0.17% of all childbearing women are HIV-seropositive, and approximately 7000 infants are born to HIV-infected women each year. Recently, the perinatal administration of zidovudine was shown to substantially reduce vertical HIV transmission.3,4 In an effort to further reduce vertical HIV transmission, perinatal trials of newer antiretroviral agents alone and in combination are under way. Major efforts must continue to be made to offer HIV testing to all pregnant women and to monitor the infection status of their infants. Infants infected with HIV must be diagnosed as rapidly as possible to ensure the early institution of