Impairment of a pregnant woman’s acquired ability to limit Plasmodium falciparum by infection with human immunodeficiency virus type-1

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  • 1 Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; University of Malawi School of Medicine and Ministry of Health, Blantyre, Malawi
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In Africa, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the most serious emerging infection and Plasmodium falciparum malaria is one of the most prevalent infectious diseases. Both infections have serious consequences in pregnant women, their fetuses, and infants. We examined the association between HIV and P. falciparum in pregnant women enrolled in a malaria chemoprophylaxis study in rural Malawi. Pregnant women (n = 2,946) were enrolled at their first antenatal clinic visit (mean 5.6 months of pregnancy), placed on one of three chloroquine regimens, and followed through delivery. Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia was measured at enrollment, monthly thereafter, at delivery, and 2–6 months postpartum; placental and newborn (umbilical cord blood) infection was measured for hospital-delivered infants. Serum collected during pregnancy was tested for antibodies to HIV by enzyme-linked immunoassay with Western blot confirmation. Parasitemia was detected in 46% of 2,946 women at enrollment and 19.1% at delivery; HIV seroprevalence was 5.5%. The prevalence and geometric mean density (GMPD) of parasitemia at enrollment and at delivery were higher in HIV-seropositive(+) than in HlV-seronegative(−) women (at enrollment: 57% prevalence and a GMPD of 1,558 parasites/mm3 versus 44% and 670/mm3, respectively; P < 0.0001; and at delivery: 35% and 1,589/mm3 versus 18% and 373/mm3; P < 0.0005). Placental infection rates were higher in HIV(+) compared with HIV(−) women (38% versus 23%; P < 0.0005). This association was strongest in multigravidas. Compared with infants born to HIV(−) women, newborns born to HIV(+) women had higher rates of umbilical cord blood parasitemia. Both HIV(+) and HIV(−) women had similar rates of parasitemia 2–6 months postpartum. The HIV infection diminishes a pregnant woman's capacity to control P. falciparum parasitemia and placental and newborn infection, the major determinants of the impact of P. falciparum on fetal growth and infant survival.

Author Notes

Authors’ addresses: Richard W. Steketee, Epidemiology Branch, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mailstop E-45, 1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30333. Jack J. Wirima, Ben Chilima, and Lester Chitsulo, University of Malawi School of Medicine and Ministry of Health, Blantyre, Malawi. Peter B. Bloland, Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333. Jonathan H. Mermin, Foodborne and Diahhreal Diseases Branch, Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, 30333. Joel G. Breman, Division of International Training and Research, Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Building 31, Room B2C 39, Bethesda, MD 20892-2220.

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