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Pediatrics. 2008 Aug;122(2):331-9. doi: 10.1542/peds.2007-2308.

CD4+/CD8+ T cell ratio for diagnosis of HIV-1 infection in infants: Women and Infants Transmission Study.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida 33136, USA.



In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the CD4(+)/CD8(+) T cell ratio could predict HIV infection status in HIV-exposed infants.


CD4(+)/CD8(+) T cell ratios were determined from data for live-born singleton infants who had been prospectively enrolled in the Women and Infants Transmission Study. Data for 2208 infants with known HIV infection status (179 HIV-infected and 2029 uninfected infants) were analyzed.


Receiver operating characteristic curves indicated that the CD4(+)/CD8(+) T cell ratio performed better than the proportion of CD4(+) T cells for diagnosis of HIV infection as early as 2 months of age, and this relationship was unaffected by adjustment for maternal race/ethnicity, infant birth weight, gestational age, and gender. At 4 months of age, 90% specificity for HIV diagnosis was associated with 60% sensitivity. For ease of use, graphical estimates based on cubic splines for the time-dependent parameters in a Box-Cox transformation (L), the median (M), and the coefficient of variation (S) were used to create LMS centile curves to show the sensitivity and specificity of CD4(+)/CD8(+) T cell ratios in HIV-infected and uninfected infants until 12 months of age. At 6 months of age, a simplified equation that incorporated sequential CD4(+)/CD8(+) T cell ratios and hematocrit values resulted in improved receiver operating characteristic curves, with 94% positive predictive value and 98% negative predictive value. The positive and negative predictive values remained above 90% in simulated infant populations over a wide range of HIV infection prevalence values.


In the absence of virological diagnosis, a presumptive diagnosis of HIV infection status can be made on the basis of CD4(+)/CD8(+) T cell ratios in HIV-1-exposed infants after 2 months of age; sensitivity and specificity can be improved at 6 months by using a discriminant analysis equation.

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