Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Persistent HIV antigenaemia and decline of HIV core antibodies associated with transition to AIDS.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986; 293 doi: (Published 06 December 1986) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;293:1459
  1. J M Lange,
  2. D A Paul,
  3. H G Huisman,
  4. F de Wolf,
  5. H van den Berg,
  6. R A Coutinho,
  7. S A Danner,
  8. J van der Noordaa,
  9. J Goudsmit


    Sequential serum samples from 13 homosexual men who seroconverted for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were tested for HIV antigen. In one of these men, who developed the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), HIV antigenaemia preceded the onset of AIDS by more than a year and persisted throughout the course of the disease. This antigenaemia was accompanied by the disappearance of IgG antibody reactivity to the major HIV core protein p24. In none of the 12 others, who all remained without serious disease, were serum concentrations of HIV antigen detected, except on one occasion in one man. All their serum samples showed strong IgG antibody reactivity to p24. Nine children who were infected with HIV in 1981 by plasma transfusion from a single donor were also followed up for HIV antigenaemia. HIV antigen was almost constantly present in the serum (26 of 28 samples) of five children who developed AIDS related complex or AIDS and less often in the serum (four of 10 samples) of four children who remained free of symptoms. The two children who developed AIDS showed a virtual absence of antibody reactivity to p24. These results indicate that increased HIV gene expression is a contributing factor to the development of AIDS and also provide evidence for a switch from latent to active HIV infection.