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Ask Dr. D. Love Your Own Question
Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 19308
Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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When we adopted my daughter from Ethiopia four years ago she

Customer Question

When we adopted my daughter from Ethiopia four years ago she was found to be carrying antibodies to the HIV virus. She was monitored for six months and did not develop the virus and was therefore declared clear.

My question concerns the fate of her birth mother. We were told by the doctor we were working with at that time that there was a 100% certainty that her birth mother was HIV positive. I am looking for a second opinion about this. It is the obvious conclusion, but is it the only possible explanation? Is it possible for instance, that her birth mother had also been exposed to but not infected with HIV? Also if it is 100% certain that she were HIV positive, how certain is that she would have gone on to develop AIDS if she went untreated?

Thanks for your help.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for using JustAnswer. I will be glad to assist you today.

For the mother to have transmitted the virus to the daughter, there must have been virus growing in the mother. As such, it would be impossible that the mother was exposed but not infected.

As to whether it is the only possible explanation, there is the possibility that there could have been a separate blood exposure from a source other than the mother that occurred some time after birth. However, it is rare for a child to have a blood exposure; the vast majority of infected children were infected from their mother.

If the mother was growing the virus to allow for transmission to the daughter, then without treatment, she would go on to develop AIDS, although it may not have yet happened, as it takes years for it to progress to AIDS. HIV transmission to a child can occur early in the course of an HIV infection, but AIDS occurs much later.

If you have any further questions, please let me know.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

A comprehensive answer!


Thanks for your help.

Paul Gartside.

Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 4 years ago.
You're welcome.

If I have answered all your questions, please remember to provide a positive rating so that I can be compensated for my time and expertise in assisting you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

To be clear, our daughter does NOT have the HIV virus. What she had was the antibodies -- titers? indicating maternal infection. (She is completely clear since then. No virus, no antibodies.) In your reply, you refer to the birth mother having "transmitted the virus" to our daughter. . . . So I wanted to make sure you understood the question.

Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 4 years ago.
Yes, I understand, but for the daughter to have been exposed, there would have had to have been growth of the virus in the mother that then transmitted the virus to the daughter to have stimulated antibody production. Even if the daughter's immune system and antibody production was able to keep the virus from growing in the daughter's body and causing an active infection, there still must have been some exposure of the daughter to the virus to have been able to create the antibodies, so there must gave been virus growing in the mother, even if the daughter never has the virus growing.