HIV-1 populations in blood and breast milk are similar

Virology. 2004 Dec 5;330(1):295-303. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2004.09.004.


Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) through breast milk is a significant mechanism of infection in many regions of the world. We compared the HIV-1 populations in paired blood and breast milk samples using a heteroduplex tracking assay (HTA) for the V1/V2 regions of env (V1/V2-HTA). V1/V2-HTA patterns were similar in the eight pairs of samples for which adequate template sampling could be demonstrated. No unique variants existed in either compartment, and differences detected in the relative abundance of variants between compartments were small, occurred among low abundance variants, and were not statistically significant. We also documented the impact of template sampling as a limiting feature in comparing two viral populations. The absence of unique variants and the lack of significant differences in the relative abundance of variants between these compartments support the conclusion that viruses in the blood plasma and breast milk are well equilibrated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / transmission
  • Female
  • Genes, env
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • HIV-1 / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical
  • Milk, Human / virology*
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Templates, Genetic
  • Viral Load


  • RNA, Viral