Natasha Onalenna Moraka

Last Known Email Address: 
Last Known Position: 
Fogarty Research Fellow, Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP)

Natasha Onalenna Moraka

SANTHE Intern, Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP), Gaborone, Botswana
Position Dates: 
Monday, 1 February, 2016 to Tuesday, 31 January, 2017
Project Name: High Morbidity and Mortality in HIV-1 Exposed Uninfected (HEU) Infants: The Role of Cytomegalovirus Infection

Moraka's study constituted a retrospective cohort study of HIV-exposed uninfected infants and their mothers which involved evaluating the effects of HIV/CMV exposure on infant adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes. The samples used in this study were part of the “Effects of HIV and ARV Exposure on Child Health and Neurodevelopment, Botswana,” also known as the “Tshipidi Study”, carried out from 2010 to 2012.  Plasma samples from 18-month old HEU infants were available for testing. Delivery plasma samples from about 500 mothers were also available for analysis. These 18-month samples were tested for HCMV using HCMV IgG ELISA and maternal samples were be tested for HCMV viral load quantification using the COBAS® AmpliPrep/COBAS® TaqMan® CMV Test using COBAS® AmpliPrep Instrument. The main objectives were:

  1. To explore the effect of congenital CMV infection on health and growth (neurodevelopmental) outcomes on HEU infants. The hypothesis: Infant CMV sero-status will be correlated with poorer infant neurodevelopmental outcomes, and as shown in previous papers. Neurodevelopmental outcomes analysed will include head size, length-for-age, weight for age and psychomotor development among others.
  2. To identify the impact of maternal CMV DNA viremia on adverse pregnancy/delivery outcomes in infants born to HIV positive mothers. The hypothesis: Maternal CMV viral loads will be associated with adverse infant delivery outcomes.

The results showed there was a trend towards higher CMV detection among HIV-infected vs HIV-uninfected mothers.  Among HIV-infected women, the presence of detectable CMV DNA was not associated with the composite adverse pregnancy outcome; and was not associated with the composite outcome of child hospitalisation and/or death by 24 months.

During this project, Moraka as able to master the use of the CMV DNA with the Roche TaqMan assay using Roche COBAS® AmpliPrep/COBAS® TaqMan® 48.

Dr Simani Gaseitisiwe - Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP)