Despite remarkable progress in prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), 160,000 children were newly infected with HIV in 2016. Less than half of HIV-exposed infants (HEI) received early infant diagnosis (EID) within 6 weeks of life, a major challenge for early antiretroviral therapy for HIV-positive infants. Although introduction of dried blood spot (DBS) has increased EID access, conventional laboratory networks have relatively long (22-60 days) turnaround time, resulting in low proportions of results returned and missed opportunities for ART initiation. The WHO conditionally recommends introduction of point-of-care (POC)/ near-POC nucleic acid testing (NAT) for EID.

Recent encouraging evidence for POC/ near-POC EID warrants consideration of rapid adoption and strategic scale-up of this solution complementing the existing laboratory network.

This is part of a series of 12 policy briefs by the Child Survival Working Group on scaling up key interventions for children and adolescents living with HIV. Learn more