Distinct determinants of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 RNA and DNA loads in vaginal and cervical secretions

J Infect Dis. 1998 May;177(5):1214-20. doi: 10.1086/515266.


The relationship between human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) viral RNA and proviral DNA load in vagina and cervix and that found in the plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) was investigated in 28 HIV-1-infected women. Of the patients, 64% had > or = 1 HIV-1 RNA-positive genital sample, while 71% had > or = 1 DNA-positive sample. The higher the cervical HIV load, the more widespread was the virus in the genital tract. A strong correlation was found between viral RNA load in plasma and the genital tract, whereas the association between proviral DNA load in PBMC and the genital tract was less evident. Cervical HIV-1 DNA correlated with a viral RNA load > or = 50,000 copies/mL. Cervical HIV-1 RNA levels ranged from 10% to 100% of the plasma levels. Thus, a continuous transmission risk from untraumatized genital epithelium exists in the majority of HIV-1-infected women at all stages of infection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Blood Transfusion
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • CD4-CD8 Ratio
  • Cervix Uteri / metabolism
  • Cervix Uteri / virology*
  • DNA, Viral / isolation & purification*
  • Female
  • HIV Seropositivity / immunology
  • HIV Seropositivity / pathology*
  • HIV Seropositivity / virology
  • HIV-1 / isolation & purification*
  • Heterosexuality
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / virology*
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification*
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous
  • Vagina / metabolism
  • Vagina / virology*


  • DNA, Viral
  • RNA, Viral