Background: Breast milk HIV-1 load is associated with clinical and subclinical mastitis, and both milk viral load and mastitis are associated with increased mother-to-child-transmission of HIV-1 through breastfeeding. Bacterial infections may cause clinical mastitis, but whether other copathogens common in HIV-1 infection are associated with subclinical mastitis or HIV-1 shedding is unknown. Design: A cross-sectional study of HIV-1-infected breastfeeding women in Zimbabwe was performed to examine the relationship between a wide range of breast coinfections, mastitis, and HIV-1 shedding. Methods: Breast milk was cultured for bacteria and fungi and tested by PCR for mycobacteria, mycoplasmas, human herpesvirus (HHV)-6, HHV-7, HHV-8, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, and HIV-1 RNA and DNA. Symptoms of clinical mastitis were documented and subclinical mastitis was identified by breast milk sodium concentration (Na) and leukocyte counts. Results: Coinfections of milk were not associated with clinical or subclinical mastitis in the 217 women studied. Detection of HIV-1 RNA, but not DNA, in breast milk was associated with cytomegalovirus concentration (odds ratio = 1.8, P = 0.002) and detection of Epstein-Barr virus (odds ratio = 3.8, P = 0.0003) but not other coinfections in multivariate analysis. Conclusion: Coinfection of breast milk with bacteria, fungi, or herpes viruses was not associated with mastitis. The associations between shedding of cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus with HIV-1 in milk suggest a local interaction between herpes virus infection and HIV-1 independent of mastitis. Cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus infections may impact HIV-1 shedding in breast milk and the risk of MTCT.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy
- Infectious Diseases