Human immunodeficiency virus load in breast milk, mastitis, and mother-to-child transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1

J Infect Dis. 1999 Jul;180(1):93-8. doi: 10.1086/314854.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 load in breast milk and mastitis were examined as risk factors for vertical transmission of HIV-1. Six weeks after delivery, HIV-1 load and sodium (an indicator of mastitis) were measured in breast milk from 334 HIV-1-infected women in Malawi. Median breast milk HIV-1 load was 700 copies/mL among women with HIV-1-infected infants versus undetectable (<200 copies/mL) among those with uninfected infants, respectively (P<. 0001). Elevated breast milk sodium levels consistent with mastitis occurred in 16.4% of HIV-1-infected women and were associated with increased vertical transmission of HIV-1 (P<.0001). Median breast milk HIV-1 load was 920 copies/mL among women with versus undetectable among those without elevated breast milk sodium levels, respectively (P<.0001). Mastitis and breast milk HIV-1 load may increase the risk of vertical transmission of HIV-1 through breast-feeding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical*
  • Malawi / epidemiology
  • Mastitis / epidemiology
  • Mastitis / virology*
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Milk, Human / virology*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sodium / analysis
  • Viral Load


  • Sodium