What is the management of HIV-exposed infants during the first year of life?

All HIV-exposed infants should be managed as follows unless appropriate PCR testing excludes HIV infection:

  1. All the routine immunisations should be given.
  2. Growth should be assessed by regularly plotting the infant’s weight on a Road-to-Health Card. The early detection of poor weight gain is especially important.
  3. Ensure that the infant is receiving an adequate diet. Provide vitamins, especially vitamin A. This is best given as a multivitamin syrup.
  4. Co-trimoxazole should be started at 6 weeks.
  5. Signs of HIV infection should be looked for at each clinic visit. The early diagnosis and effective treatment of opportunistic infections can give these children longer and better lives.
  6. The correct use of antiretroviral therapy is most important in children with AIDS.
  7. It is very important to also provide the correct HIV management to the mother and other infected members of the family.

There are great advantages in identifying HIV-infected infants as soon as possible with PCR testing. Infants who are not infected with HIV can be followed at a well baby clinic.

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