What are the advantages of diagnosing HIV infection early?

There are many advantages of diagnosing HIV infection early in infants. If the infant has not been breastfed, PCR testing can screen the infant for HIV infection at 6 weeks after delivery. Most infants will be negative and their parents can be reassured. These infants do not need the routine care offered to HIV-exposed infants from 6 weeks and can be followed at a well baby clinic. Infants with a positive PCR test should be closely followed up as they need additional care and monitoring. Breastfed infants should only be rescreened later after they have received no breast milk for 6 weeks. As HIV can cause severe illness and even death in the first few months of life, it is important to make the diagnosis as early as possible so that treatment can be started.

HIV-exposed infants should be screened for HIV infection at 6 weeks of age.

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