When do most vertical HIV infections occur?

Updated: Mar 05, 2020
  • Author: Delia M Rivera, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Most vertical infections occur during delivery (period 2), and many factors affect the risk of infection during this period (see Deterrence/Prevention). In general, the longer and the greater amount of contact the neonate has with infected maternal blood and cervicovaginal secretions, the greater the risk of vertical transmission. Premature and low-birthweight neonates appear to have an increased risk of infection during delivery because of their reduced skin barrier and immunologic defenses.

Postnatal vertical transmission (period 3) occurs with the ingestion of HIV in the breast milk.

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