HIV testing for children must be improved

Jul 20, 2010

National HIV programs should recognize that HIV testing and counseling systems designed for adults do not meet the needs of children. Therefore, according to Scott Kellerman from Management Sciences for Health, Virginia, USA and Shaffiq Essajee from the Clinton Health Access Initiative, New York, USA, specific strategies to increase opportunities for children to access HIV testing, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, need to be designed and implemented.

In an Policy Forum published in this week's , the authors argue that inadequate numbers of in sub-Saharan Africa are on antiretroviral therapy (ART) because of insufficient detection of HIV in this group. This situation is alarming given that worldwide children account for 18% of HIV-related deaths and 15% of HIV infections each year. Furthermore, an estimated 2.3 million children are infected, and 730,000 urgently need ART but only about 275,000 children currently receive this treatment, the authors report.

Reasons for this detection deficiency include: poor linkages between infant testing programs (as part of prevention of mother-to-child transmission) and pediatric testing programs, provider uncertainty on how best to diagnose and treat infants, and insufficient numbers of pediatric HIV treatment sites. The end result is that many infected children are either never identified or lost from the system before they can be enrolled into care.

The authors discuss a new approach to pediatric testing that could help better detect children with . They argue that the routine testing of to identify those missed by PMTCT programs, particularly in countries with high prevalence, could be introduced. More targeted testing of infants and children at greater risk may be more cost effective for lower-prevalence countries, the authors say.

The authors conclude that "many of the strategies proposed here have been tried and evaluated; however, implementing them in a coordinated fashion in resource-limited settings requires new investments."

Explore further: So much has changed since the first HIV test was approved 30 years ago

More information: Kellerman S, Essajee S (2010) HIV Testing for Children in Resource-Limited Settings: What Are We Waiting For? PLoS Med 7(7): e1000285. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000285

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Is HIV testing during labor feasible?

Feb 27, 2009

Cameroon is a sub-Saharan African country with high HIV rates yet many pregnant women do not know their HIV status. Research published in the open access journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth has shown that HIV testing during ...

Testing times: Detecting HIV in resource-limited settings

Nov 29, 2007

Integrating HIV testing programmes into primary medical care can help achieve early diagnosis of HIV infection, even in relatively poor areas, research published in the online open access journal AIDS Research and Therapy ...

Recommended for you

Preventing one case of HIV saves over $225K, study shows

Feb 27, 2015

How much money would be saved if one high-risk person was prevented from contracting HIV in the United States? A new study led by a researcher at Weill Cornell Medical College and published online Feb. 24 in Medical Care, answer ...

Research captures transient details of HIV genome packaging

Feb 27, 2015

Once HIV-1 has hijacked a host cell to make copies of its own RNA genome and viral proteins, it must assemble these components into new virus particles. The orchestration of this intricate assembly process falls to a viral ...

Could an HIV drug beat strep throat, flesh-eating bacteria?

Feb 25, 2015

With antibiotic resistance on the rise, scientists are looking for innovative ways to combat bacterial infections. The pathogen that causes conditions from strep throat to flesh-eating disease is among them, but scientists ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.