Well, this is pretty swell! As we all know, HIV/AIDS is a hugely international issue. Thirty years ago, we only witnessed the onset of HIV as it was contracted in adults. But now we have seen actual generations born with the disease, such as Hydeia Broadbent, whom we wrote about on Tuesday.
In India, there has been a huge breakthrough in the diagnostic tools for HIV in infants and children.
When an infant is born with HIV, the World Health Organization recommends antiretroviral treatment regardless of CD4 count or disease stage. Without this treatment, there is a 53% chance that the infant will die before the age of two.
In the past, it's often been difficult to diagnose HIV in infants without doing a DNA test. The mother's antibodies remain in the infant's body for around 18 months after birth, skewing the HIV test results.
A large study undertaken by India's National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has found a great new method to diagnose HIV effectively in infants and children. It is called a high-end polymerase chain reaction and was used successfully on over 9,000 children in its pilot study.
The old method required a large liquid blood sample, that had to be stored in a refrigerated setting. This method was costly and cumbersome in India, especially for testing children that lived in remote areas of India.
The new test only requires a small sample of dried blood. This can be transported over many miles without becoming degraded or tainted.
This allows infants to be diagnosed earlier, allowing them quicker access to life-saving medicine. Receiving this treatment early will give the child a better chance of surviving into adulthood and living a long life.
Great news! We love it when there are breakthroughs in HIV/AIDS research.