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HIV test in Infants

Babies born to mothers infected with HIV may or may not get infected with the virus. But the babies carry their mother's antibodies for HIV for several months. A doctor may find it very difficult to make definitive diagnosis of HIV infection in babies who lack symptoms until after 15 months of age. In recent times, PCR (polymerase chain reaction) assays or HIV culture techniques are employed to identify about one-third of infants who are truly HIV infected. With the current techniques, 90 percent of the HIV infected infants are identifiable by two months of age and 95 percent by three months of age. In fact PCR can detect minute quantities of the virus in an infant's blood.

Pre-test and Post-test counseling sessions are key to HIV testing. Counseling plays a very important role in getting a person to do HIV antibody test. Only a trained counselor can alleviate the fears in the individual and help prepare for getting test results. HIV infection often causes no symptoms in early stages. HIV antibodies also do not reach detectable levels in the blood for one to three months following the infection. Therefore people exposed to the virus should get an HIV test as soon as they are likely to develop antibodies to the virus within 6 weeks to 12 months after possible exposure to the virus.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: October 16, 2017