Objective: To assess the reproducibility of and factors associated with HIV detection in cervicovaginal secretions (CVS).
Design: Longitudinal study of 43 HIV-1-infected pregnant women in Paris.
Methods: HIV DNA was detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) by Amplicor and gag nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays. The HIV genotype was determined by heteroduplex mobility assay. Amplicor and gag nested PCR assays were performed on serial CVS samples for HIV DNA detection, and the HIV Monitor test was used for HIV RNA detection in plasma and CVS.
Results: A total of 144 CVS samples were collected from the women included in the study. HIV-1 DNA was detected in 36 (25%) of the 144 samples, from 16 (37.2%) of the 43 women. Results of HIV-1 DNA detection were concordant in the first two samples in 27 (84.4%) of the 32 women with at least two CVS samples. The last CVS sample collected in each woman was HIV-1 DNA-positive in 13 (30.2%) of the 43 women. Three factors were found to be independently associated with HIV-1 DNA detection in CVS: HIV-1 subtype B, absence of zidovudine therapy, and microbial cervicovaginal infection. HIV RNA was detected in CVS from 10 (23.3%) out of 43 women and correlated with DNA detection in the same sample and HIV RNA detection in plasma.
Conclusions: DNA and RNA PCR can be used to detect HIV in cells and supernatants of CVS. These techniques may be useful in cohort studies to investigate HIV transmission and to evaluate the efficacy of antiretroviral drugs to reduce HIV excretion.