Y chromosome and HIV DNA detection in vaginal swabs as biomarkers of semen and HIV exposure in women

behalf of the MTN Biomedical Sciences Working Group and the HPTN 035 Protocol Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: The inability to quantify sexual exposure to HIV limits the power of HIV prevention trials of vaccines, microbicides, and preexposure prophylaxis in women. We investigated the detection of HIV-1 and Y chromosomal (Yc) DNA in vaginal swabs from 83 participants in the HPTN 035 microbicide trial as biomarkers of HIV exposure and unprotected sexual activity. Methods: One hundred forty-three vaginal swabs from 85 women were evaluated for the presence of Yc DNA (Quantifiler Duo DNA quantification kit; Applied Biosystems) and total HIV-1 DNA (single-copy in-house quantitative polymerase chain reaction assay). Y DNA detection was paired with self-reported behavioral data with regard to recent coitus (â ‰1 week before collection) and condom usage (100% vs. <100% compliance). Results: Yc DNA was detected in 62 (43%) of 143 swabs. For the 126 visits at which both behavioral data and swabs were collected, Yc DNA was significantly more frequent in women reporting less than 100% condom usage (odds ratio, 10.69; 95% confidence interval, 2.27-50.32; P = 0.003). Notably, 27 (33%) of 83 swabs from women reporting 100% condom usage were positive for Yc DNA. HIV DNA was only detected in swabs collected postseroconversion. Conclusions: The use of Yc DNA in HIV prevention trials could reliably identify subgroups of women who have unprotected sexual activity and could provide valuable exposure-based estimates of efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)674-679
Number of pages6
JournalSexually Transmitted Diseases
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 12 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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