Accidental father-to-son HIV-1 transmission during the seroconversion period

Ifeanyi Jude Ezeonwumelu, Inês Bártolo, Francisco Martin, AB Abecasis, Teresa Campos, Ethan Obie Romero-Severson, Thomas K. Leitner, N. Taveira

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4 Citations (Scopus)


A 4-year-old child born to an HIV-1 seronegative mother was diagnosed with HIV-1, the main risk factor being transmission from the child's father who was seroconverting at the time of the child's birth. In the context of a forensic investigation, we aimed to identify the source of infection of the child and date of the transmission event. Samples were collected from the father and child at two time points about 4 years after the child's birth. Partial segments of three HIV-1 genes (gag, pol, and env) were sequenced and maximum likelihood (ML) and Bayesian methods were used to determine direction and estimate date of transmission. Neutralizing antibodies were determined using a single cycle assay. Bayesian trees displayed a paraphyletic-monophyletic topology in all three genomic regions, with the father's host label at the root, which is consistent with father-to-son transmission. ML trees found similar topologies in gag and pol and a monophyletic-monophyletic topology in env. Analysis of the time of the most recent common ancestor of each HIV-1 gene population indicated that the child was infected shortly after the father. Consistent with the infection history, both father and son developed broad and potent HIV-specific neutralizing antibody responses. In conclusion, the direction of transmission implicated the father as the source of transmission. Transmission occurred during the seroconversion period when the father was unaware of the infection and was likely accidental. This case shows how genetic, phylogenetic, and serological data can contribute for the forensic investigation of HIV transmission.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)857-862
Number of pages6
JournalAIDS Research and Human Retroviruses
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • HIV father-to-son transmission
  • Forensic investigation of HIV transmission
  • Neutralizing antibodies
  • Phylogenetic analysis


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