Background: Accurate incidence estimates are needed for surveillance of the HIV epidemic. HIV surveillance occurs at maternal-child health clinics, but it is not known if pregnancy affects HIV incidence testing.
Methods: We used the BED capture immunoassay (BED) and an antibody avidity assay to test longitudinal samples from 51 HIV-infected Ugandan women infected with subtype A, C, D and intersubtype recombinant HIV who were enrolled in the HIVNET 012 trial (37 baseline samples collected near the time of delivery and 135 follow-up samples collected 3, 4 or 5 years later). Nineteen of 51 women were also pregnant at the time of one or more of the follow-up visits. The BED assay was performed according to the manufacturer's instructions. The avidity assay was performed using a Genetic Systems HIV-1/HIV-2 + O EIA using 0.1M diethylamine as the chaotropic agent.
Results: During the HIVNET 012 follow-up study, there was no difference in normalized optical density values (OD-n) obtained with the BED assay or in the avidity test results (%) when women were pregnant (n = 20 results) compared to those obtained when women were not pregnant (n = 115; for BED: p = 0.9, generalized estimating equations model; for avidity: p = 0.7, Wilcoxon rank sum). In addition, BED and avidity results were almost exactly the same in longitudinal samples from the 18 women who were pregnant at only one study visit during the follow-up study (p = 0.6, paired t-test).
Conclusions: These results from 51 Ugandan women suggest that any changes in the antibody response to HIV infection that occur during pregnancy are not sufficient to alter results obtained with the BED and avidity assays. Confirmation with larger studies and with other HIV subtypes is needed.