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Will my HIV-positive baby turn negative later?




 

Face HIV with Dr. Watiti

Dear Doctor,

I am HIV-positive but not yet on ARVs because my CD4 count is still high. I have a seven-month-old baby whom I never breastfed but was found HIV-positive. The child has been put on Septrin and I have been advised to have him checked again when he is 18 months old to confirm whether he is still HIV positive or not. Please explain to me why the child needs to be checked again. Why was my child put on Septrin? Is there a possibility he will become HIV negative?

Rose

Dear Rose,

CHILDREN born to HIV-positive mothers often test HIV-positive not because they are necessarily infected with HIV but because they carry antibodies against HIV from their mothers.

However, these antibodies disappear from the body after one-and-half years and these children may then test HIV-negative if they are not infected with HIV.

Your child was put on Septrin because he was exposed to HIV and may be infected, hence the need to protect him from opportunistic infections and malaria which occur when one�s immunity is compromised.

However, your child may turn out to be HIV-negative and septrin stopped when re-tested.

It would be good if the child is tested using the DNA-PCR method soon so that if he is found HIV-positive, he is started on ARVs as children infected with HIV but started on ARVs early do better than those who start late.

The damage done by HIV to the immune system of an infant may lead to stunting which cannot be reversed.



 


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Information in this article was accurate in May 17, 2009. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.