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Retrovirology. 2005 Apr 29;2:28.

Inactivation of HIV-1 in breast milk by treatment with the alkyl sulfate microbicide sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS).

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania 17033, USA.



Reducing transmission of HIV-1 through breast milk is needed to help decrease the burden of pediatric HIV/AIDS in society. We have previously reported that alkyl sulfates (i.e., sodium dodecyl sulfate, SDS) are microbicidal against HIV-1 at low concentrations, are biodegradable, have little/no toxicity and are inexpensive. Therefore, they may be used for treatment of HIV-1 infected breast milk. In this report, human milk was artificially infected by adding to it HIV-1 (cell-free or cell-associated) and treated with <or=1% SDS (<or=10 mg/ml). Microbicidal treatment was at 37 degrees C or room temperature for 10 min. SDS removal was performed with a commercially available resin. Infectivity of HIV-1 and HIV-1 load in breast milk were determined after treatment.


SDS (>or=0.1%) was virucidal against cell-free and cell-associated HIV-1 in breast milk. SDS could be substantially removed from breast milk, without recovery of viral infectivity. Viral load in artificially infected milk was reduced to undetectable levels after treatment with 0.1% SDS. SDS was virucidal against HIV-1 in human milk and could be removed from breast milk if necessary. Milk was not infectious after SDS removal.


The proposed treatment concentrations are within reported safe limits for ingestion of SDS by children of 1 g/kg/day. Therefore, use of alkyl sulfate microbicides, such as SDS, to treat HIV1-infected breast milk may be a novel alternative to help prevent/reduce transmission of HIV-1 through breastfeeding.

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