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Genital Herpes Linked to Perinatal HIV Transmission

Women with genital herpes more likely to transmit HIV to infant

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant women infected with HIV may be more likely to vertically transmit the virus if they also have genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection, according to a study in the December issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Katherine T. Chen, M.D., of Columbia University, and colleagues studied 402 HIV-infected pregnant women enrolled in a New York City study between 1994-1999. The women delivered infants with known HIV status.

Overall, 46 women (11.4%) delivered HIV-infected infants; and 21 (5.2%) were diagnosed with HSV during pregnancy. Six (28.6%) of the 21 women with genital HSV delivered an HIV-infected infant, the researchers found. After adjusting for other risk factors, the women with genital HSV were 4.8 times as likely to transmit HIV to their infant as HSV-free women, the report indicates.

"Clinical diagnosis of genital HSV infection during pregnancy in HIV-infected women may be a risk factor for perinatal HIV transmission," the authors write. "If future studies confirm this association, therapy to suppress genital HSV reactivation during pregnancy may be a strategy to reduce perinatal HIV transmission."

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