Maternal viral load and immune status, timing and route of delivery, viral subtype, and host genetics are known to influence the transmission, acquisition and disease progression of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) infection. This review summarizes the findings from published works on host molecular factors and virus genotypes affecting mother to child transmission (MTCT) in Africa and identifies the gaps that need to be addressed in future research. Articles in PubMed, Google and AIDSearch and relevant conference abstracts publications were searched. Accessible articles on host factors and viral genetics impacting the MTCT of HIV, done on African populations till 2015 were downloaded. Forty-six articles were found and accessed; 70% described host genes impacting the transmission. The most studied gene was the CCR5 promoter, followed by the CCR2-64I found to reduce MTCT; then SDF1-3’A shown to have no effect on MTCT and others like the DC-SIGNR, CD4, CCL3 and IP- 10. The HLA class I was most studied and was generally linked to the protective effect on MTCT. Breast milk constituents were associated to protection against MTCT. However, existing studies in Sub Saharan Africa were done just in few countries and some done without control groups. Contradictory results obtained may be due to different genetic background, type of controls, different socio-cultural and economic environment and population size. More studies are thus needed to better understand the mechanism of transmission or prevention.
HIV-1; mother to child transmission; Sub Saharan Africa; host factors; viral genetics