JCI Insight highlights paper examining relationship between BCG TB vaccine and levels of activated HIV target cells

Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine is administered at birth to infants throughout sub-Saharan Africa to protect against tuberculosis. Notably, most perinatal HIV transmission occurs in this same region, leading Heather Jaspan and colleagues to investigate the effect of BCG vaccination on levels of activated HIV target cells in HIV-exposed infants. Of the 149 HIV-exposed South African infants randomized for the study, 71 received BCG at birth and 66 received the vaccine at 8 weeks of age. Routine vaccination at birth increased systemic activation of HIV target cells 3-fold, and this elevation persisted for 8 weeks. Delayed vaccination 8 weeks after birth resulted in a similar increase in HIV target cells. This study demonstrates that BCG vaccination increases the proportion of HIV target cells in HIV exposed infants and suggests that the timing of BCG vaccination may need to be further evaluated to minimize the risk of HIV transmission while still providing vital protection against tuberculosis. BCG vaccination induces HIV target cell activation in HIV-exposed infants in a randomized trial.

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Melanie A. Gasper, Anneke C. Hesseling, Isaac Mohar, Landon Myer, Tali Azenkot, Jo-Ann S. Passmore, Willem Hanekom, Mark F. Cotton, I. Nicholas Crispe, Donald L. Sodora, and Heather B. Jaspan