8 Ways to Diagnose HIV Infection (HIV+) in Children

Ambili S Kartha
1 to 3 years

Created by Ambili S Kartha
Updated on Dec 01, 2017

8 Ways to Diagnose HIV Infection HIV in Children
Reviewed by Expert panel

This World AIDS Day, let’s take a pledge to create much-needed awareness against HIV and AIDS. HIV is an epidemic that continues to be a major public health challenge around the world. India falls under the third-largest number of population living with HIV (UNICEF, India 2015). Here are some fundamental statistics about HIV that enhances the importance of this topic. The Indian government estimates that...

  • Around 40% of HIV-infected individuals are women
  • The rate of perinatal transmission of HIV is 5.7%, with about 23,000 newly born HIV-infected children annually
  • 3.5% of the HIV-positive population are children under 15 years of age

Why Is The Number Of Children With HIV Increasing?

The child can also contract the human immunodeficiency virus through contaminated needles and unsafe blood transfusion. However, mother-to-child transmission of HIV is the most significant route of transmission in children under 15 years. Therefore, successful management of the disease in pregnant women is essential for the prevention of HIV transmission to children.

Be that as it may, a considerable percentage of pregnant women who are HIV positive are facing discrimination from health professionals. Many health professionals are found turning down the right of the HIV+ mothers to get proper health care, antenatal care, and even terminating a pregnancy or even sterilization. This increases the birth of HIV+ children.

Are HIV+ and AIDS The Same?

No, HIV+ and AIDS are not the same. HIV is a virus and AIDS is a life-threatening condition in which the body is not able to fight off even mild infections as the immune system is severely weakened by the invasion of the human immunodeficiency virus popularly known as HIV. Even a common cold can result in losing a life. So, we can rather say, HIV is a virus causing a condition called AIDS. [Know - Ways to Prevent Mother-Child HIV Transmission?]

Does HIV+ Mean My Child Will Develop AIDS Soon?

Not all children with HIV develop AIDS before long. In fact, some children who become infected with HIV may seem healthy for years before developing AIDS. Treatment for HIV is not a cure, but it can help to prevent or delay the progression of the disease and check its consequences to a great extent. Without treatment, therefore, HIV will damage your child’s immune system severely.

Early recognition and proper treatment are essential for babies with HIV to live longer, healthier lives.

How Soon The Baby With An HIV+ Mother Should Be Tested For HIV?

It is quite important that a child born to HIV+ woman be tested for HIV. The baby should be tested at birth to see if he or she has been infected with HIV. This test is called virological testing and is the most reliable method of diagnosing HIV infection in children under 18 months of age. This requires sending a blood sample to a specialized laboratory. It is relatively inexpensive and easy to standardize. This test is done at 14 to 21 days of life and repeated for 1 to 2 months, and again at 4 to 6 months.

The outcome of a minimum of two HIV virological tests is required to make sure whether a baby is HIV negative or HIV positive.

When Baby Is Considered As HIV Negative?

If the results of the two virological tests are negative. The first negative result must be a test done when a baby is 1 month or older, and the second result must be from a test done when a baby is 4 months or older.

When Baby Is Considered As HIV Positive?

If the results of two virological tests become positive.

How to Know That Your Child Is HIV+?

Symptoms of HIV infection vary with child and his or her age, the following are some of the more common symptoms. Following are eight ways to find out if a child is HIV+

  • Poor Weight Gain: Infants and children who are infected with HIV can experience significant growth and development problems. Failure to thrive, which means the failure to increase the weight or grow according to the growth charts, is one of the significant signs of HIV+
  • Difficulty in Meeting Normal Milestones: Failure to meet the normal developmental milestones during the expected time frame. For example, it takes longer for an HIV-positive child to roll over, crawl, sit, stand, or walk when compared to the normal children of the same age
  • Being Sick Often With Childhood Illnesses: Human immunodeficiency virus negatively impacts the child's developing immune system. Therefore, the body of the child will not be able to fight against even mild and common infections. As a result, the child undergoes frequent ear, sinus or lung infections, which more often accompanied by fever, body aches, headache, diarrhea, or fatigue.

[AlsoHow To Help A Child Who Has Been Detected With HIV?]

  • Repeated Fungal Mouth Infections: HIV can affect the balance of gut flora of the child. This increases the odds of the child contracting recurrent yeast infections. Oral thrush and diaper dermatitis happen in 50% to 85% of HIV+ children. The appearance of white and throbbing skin sores all along the throat, tongue or gums indicate a yeast infection
  • Abdominal Swelling: Abdominal swelling, which makes the normal movement of the child hard is another sign of an HIV+ child. It is mainly due to liver or spleen inflammation brought about by the virus
  • Develop Skin Conditions: When the child's immune system is weakened by HIV, the child can develop a severe skin condition called dermatitis, the appearance of red, dry and itchy patches of skin across the body
  • Swelling of Lymph Nodes: The swollen and painful lymph nodes are another significant sign the child is HIV+. The swelling happens as a result of the infection get to the nodes through the lymph fluid. HIV, usually, adversely affects the lymph nodes around the neck area, as well as in the armpits
  • Neurological Issues: HIV, usually cause nerve damage. Neurological issues like seizures, trouble walking, etc.are associated with nerve damage. The child, if experience any of these, could be an HIV+ child


With this blog, we hope to create much-needed awareness in the society about HIV and AIDS. For any doubts and queries please visit your doctor immediately. And share your views and feedback in the comments section below as we would love to hear from you.

References Taken:


Healthy Parenting

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Dec 04, 2017

. Bhn yawned

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