How To Diagnose HIV In Babies

How To Diagnose HIV In Babies

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that is responsible for acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The virus destroys cells of the immune system and progressively destroys the ability of the body to fight infections and certain cancers.  

Diagnosing HIV In Babies

Diagnosing HIV In Babies

HIV testing in infants and toddlers varies significantly from how adults are tested. Rather than testing for HIV antibodies, doctors will instead test for the actual presence of HIV using the qualitative viral assay.

This differs from the quantitative viral assay used to measure HIV in the blood. Instead, the qualitative test confirms whether the virus is there or not.

Antibody tests cannot establish HIV infection in infants because the antibodies may be that of the mother that transferred from mother to child through the placenta during pregnancy. It’s important to understand that the presence of these inherited antibodies does not indicate HIV infection. Oftentimes, the maternal antibodies will slowly disappear, on average when the child is around 14 months of age.

To lessen the risk of infection, newborns are usually prescribed a preventive course of antiretroviral drugs for a period of four to six weeks. 

How To Help Protect Your Baby From HIV During Pregnancy?

Protect Your Baby From HIV During Pregnancy

Get tested and treated for HIV. If you have HIV, getting treatment before and during pregnancy usually can prevent infection in your baby. If you take HIV medications throughout pregnancy, labor, and birth, give your baby HIV medicines for 4 to 6 weeks after birth.

If you have HIV and are left untreated, you can pass it to your baby:

  • Before birth through the placenta: The placenta grows in your uterus and supplies the baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord.
  • During labor and birth through contact with mom’s blood and vaginal fluids: When you go into labor, your amniotic sac breaks that increasing the risk of your baby being infected. The amniotic sac is the sac inside the uterus that holds a growing baby. Most babies who get HIV from their moms get infected around the time of birth.
  • After birth through breast milk: If you have HIV, don’t breastfeed your baby. 

HIV Treatment 

The standard treatment for HIV is a combined medication called antiretroviral therapy (ART). It slows the rate at which the virus multiplies. Taking them can lessen the amount of virus in your child’s body and help them stay healthy. 

Your child will need to take ART medicines for the rest of his or her life. Your child needs to take the medicines exactly as the doctor prescribes them, with no skipped doses. If the medicines aren’t taken as prescribed, the HIV can become drug-resistant and make the infection harder to treat.

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How To Diagnose HIV In Babies