Background: We describe a child who was identified shortly after birth as infected with the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), but whose infection appears to have completely cleared. Asymptomatic HIV-1 infection was diagnosed in the mother during the fourth month of pregnancy. The infant was delivered vaginally at 36 weeks, received no blood products, and was not breast-fed.
Methods and results: HIV-1 was detected by culture of the infant's peripheral-blood mononuclear cells at 19 and 51 days of age. Plasma from the infant was also culture-positive for HIV-1 at 51 days of age by DNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Nucleotide-sequence analysis of HIV-1 DNA showed extremely close homology of the cultures obtained 32 days apart, and forensic markers of genetic identity for the two cultures were identical. Hence, inadvertent viral contamination or error in the collection of specimens was highly unlikely. At 12 months of age the infant was seronegative for HIV-1, and numerous subsequent cultures and tests by PCR have also been negative for HIV-1. The child is five years of age at this writing, is HIV-seronegative, and remains well, with normal growth and development and no laboratory or clinical evidence of HIV-1 infection.
Conclusions: The infant we describe was infected perinatally with HIV-1, but the infection subsequently cleared and the infant remained without detectable HIV-1 infection five years later.