Early Diagnosis of HIV Infection in the Breastfed Infant
More than 90% of the 370,000 pediatric human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infections globally in 2009 were acquired through mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) , and most of these transmissions occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. MTCT of HIV-1 occurs either during late pregnancy, the intrapartum period, or breastfeeding [2, 3]. With the application of prophylactic antiretroviral (ARV) therapy and breastfeeding avoidance, MTCT is now observed in only 1–2% of at-risk infants in developed countries [4, 5]. The majority of pregnant women residing in high HIV-burden, resource-limited countries (RLCs) are still not aware of their infection status and do not receive timely intervention measures to prevent vertical transmission [6–11]. Untreated infected infants have high HIV-related morbidity and mortality. Approximately 33% of the untreated infected infants in RLCs die during their first year of life, and >50% die within their first 2 years . Treating infants early greatly reduces mortality and morbidity . Recognition of the importance of reducing infant HIV mortality has facilitated the development of methods to bring appropriate testing closer to pregnant and lactating mothers, to identify HIV-infected infants earlier, and to provide timely access to life-saving ARV treatment and care. New and accurate diagnostic methods have emerged in the last few years, and many of these methods have been field-validated. This diagnostic service should not comprise a stand-alone program but must be integrated into the overall mother and child health programs to achieve the goal of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) [14, 15]. In this chapter, we review currently available diagnostic methodologies, including their advantages and disadvantages, their testing algorithms, and their quality assurance requirements, with a particular focus on early HIV diagnosis in the breastfed infant. Further, we discuss efforts toward the development of simple, accurate, and rapid diagnostic applications.