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Author Topic: HIV can be passed to babies in pre-chewed food  (Read 2440 times)

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Offline edfu

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HIV can be passed to babies in pre-chewed food
« on: February 07, 2008, 09:10:10 AM »
At the risk of raising a firestorm with this contentious topic, I am genuinely bewildered--and perhaps stupid as well.   As reported in the N.Y. Times,  HIV can be passed to babies in pre-chewed food, according to the CDC:

"February 7, 2008
Pre-Chewed Baby Food Said to Transmit H.I.V.
BOSTON — Researchers have identified another way that babies can be infected with H.I.V. — through food pre-chewed by an infected parent or caretaker.

Although thousands of babies have been infected in the United States over the last 15 years, pre-chewed food has been documented as the cause of just three cases, federal epidemiologists said here Wednesday.

But such transmission may not be so rare, Dr. Kenneth L. Dominguez’s team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at the 15th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

Pre-chewing food apparently occurs among many groups in this country and elsewhere. So transmission of H.I.V., the AIDS virus, to infants may be an unrecognized problem in developing countries where dental care is lacking, commercially prepared baby foods and blenders are not available and parents and caretakers may need to soften foods, Dr. Dominguez said in an interview.

His team said there were several reasons for reporting the three cases, dating from 1993, for the first time. One was to make health care providers and caregivers of infected children aware of the potential risk of pre-chewing. Another was to ask doctors and family members to report suspected cases to health officials to quantify the threat.

Human immunodeficiency virus is present in saliva, but usually in amounts too low to cause transmission. So, presumably, blood, which has larger amounts of the virus, is also needed for transmission.

Infected chewers with inflammations or open mouth sores can pass the virus to infants through cuts or other common teething conditions, Dr. Dominguez said.

Although the three cases were among African-Americans born in the United States, pre-chewing is prevalent among many ethnic and racial groups, according to a recent national survey of infant feeding by the C.D.C., Dr. Dominguez said.

Specific findings from the survey have not been released.

“It’s likely that some cultural influences are involved, and I am sure that people are doing what their grandmothers and aunties did in practices carried through generations,” Dr. Dominguez said.

Epidemiologists from the centers, working with researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis and the University of Miami, intensively investigated all three cases, ruling out other causes of transmission like breast feeding, sexual abuse and needle sticks.

The first two cases involved boys from Miami infected in the mid-’90s. One boy’s infection was detected when he was 39 months old, shortly before his death, after previously testing negative for the virus twice. The mother, who was infected, reported pre-chewing food for the boy.

The second boy’s mother was uninfected but lived with an infected aunt who pre-chewed his food. He survives. In the third case, a girl from Memphis was found to be infected in 2004 at 9 months old after testing negative for the virus three times. Her mother was infected and pre-chewed food for her daughter.

Genetic studies showed that the viruses isolated from the first and third cases matched those of the mother. The second case’s caregiver died before blood samples could be obtained. H.I.V. isolated from the caregiver’s infected male sexual partner did not match that from the boy.

Researchers will try to determine whether other dangerous microbes like hepatitis B virus and Helicobacter pylori might be transmitted through pre-chewed

If this is so, why can't HIV be transmitted via oral sex?

P.S.  Sorry, I meant to post this in "Living with..."

« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 09:14:50 AM by edfu »
"No one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences."--Albert Camus, "The Plague"

"Mankind can never be free until the last brick in the last church falls on the head of the last priest."--Voltaire

Offline edfu

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Re: HIV can be passed to babies in pre-chewed food
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2008, 10:36:14 AM »
I think I've found the answer to my own question, from the AP:

"It's blood, not saliva, that carried the virus because in at least two of the cases the infected mothers had bleeding gums or mouth sores, according to investigators at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention....

"All three children were infected with HIV at a time they would have been teething and had inflamed gums. It may be that both a caregiver and a child must have wounds in their mouths for the virus to have a good chance of passing from one bloodstream to another, the investigators said."

Another lousy writing job by Altman and lousy editing by the Times.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 10:38:37 AM by edfu »
"No one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences."--Albert Camus, "The Plague"

"Mankind can never be free until the last brick in the last church falls on the head of the last priest."--Voltaire

Offline RapidRod

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Re: HIV can be passed to babies in pre-chewed food
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2008, 12:53:55 PM »
I don't buy that story in the least.

Offline Ann

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Re: HIV can be passed to babies in pre-chewed food
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2008, 12:58:49 PM »

You have to also remember that these cases involved infants. Tiny babies with under-developed immune systems. We're not talking about grown adults having oral sex. We're also talking about feeding - an event that happens several times a day. There is no way you can use these cases to say that transmission will happen when giving oral or even kissing. It just doesn't happen that way.

« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 01:00:46 PM by Ann »
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