Incubation period of congenital HIV infection

Incubation period of congenital HIV infection – Tips from Other Journals

Incubation Period of Congenital HIV Infection The incubation period for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection varies for different groups. In homosexual men, the mean time between exposure and the onset of symptoms of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is 7.8 years and the median incubation period is estimated to be 9.8 years. In children who have been congenitally infected, the median incubation period appears to be bimodal, with a peak at 4.1 months and a second peak at 6.1 years of age. Most mothers of HIV-infected children have a history of intravenous drug use or of heterosexual contact with intravenous drug users. Estimates are that up to 20,000 cases of AIDS will occur in children in the United States during the next few years.

Burger and colleagues studied HIV infection in a family of five. Congenital and heterosexual transmission of the virus occurred in this family. The index case was a 35-year-old woman with a history of drug use but no risk of exposure to HIV since 1977. Both the woman and a daughter who was born in 1977 are infected with HIV but are free of symptoms. Two sons, who were born in 1973 and 1982, have negative serology and viral cultures and normal CD4 lymphocyte counts. However, a man who lived with the woman from 1978 to 1988 was infected with HIV and developed immunodeficiency before dying suddenly in 1988 of an undiagnosed pulmonary disorder. His only risk factor for HIV infection was sexual contact with the woman.

The mother and daughter in this family have documented incubation periods of at least 12 years. The authors speculate that this unusually long delay before the development of clinical AIDS may be due to genetic factors or to differences between the family members in exposure to cofactors. As the HIV epidemic spreads, such long incubation periods could become more common. Surveillance of individuals at high risk of infection may have to continue for many years, even if serologic tests are negative during the currently accepted incubation periods. (Lancet, July 21, 1990, vol. 336, p. 134.)

COPYRIGHT 1990 American Academy of Family Physicians

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