Detection of human immunodeficiency virus-type 1 (HIV-1) on only one or a few occasions in infants born to infected mothers has been interpreted to indicate that infection may be transient rather than persistent. Forty-two cases of suspected transient HIV-1 viremia among 1562 perinatally exposed seroreverting infants and one mother were reanalyzed. HIV-1 env sequences were not found in specimens from 20; in specimens from 6, somatic genetic analysis revealed that specimens were mistakenly attributed to an infant; and in specimens from 17, phylogenetic analysis failed to demonstrate the expected linkage between the infant's and the mother's virus. These findings argue that transient HIV-1 infection, if it exists, will only rarely be satisfactorily documented.
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