How are children usually infected with HIV?

In children HIV is usually spread from a mother to her fetus or young infant. This is called mother-to-child transmission or MTCT. An HIV-infected mother may pass the virus to her child by the following routes:

  1. HIV may cross the placenta from the mother to her fetus during pregnancy.
  2. The infant may be infected with HIV by contact with vaginal secretions and blood during labour and delivery.
  3. HIV may cross to the infant in breast milk.
  4. Young children may also be infected with HIV during rape or sexual assault while adolescents may be infected during consenting intercourse.
  5. Children may be infected when sharp instruments are used in ritual scratching or scarification or circumcision if the instrument is contaminated with blood containing HIV from another person.

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