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Can my baby be HIV negative?

Q: My wife and me both are HIV positive for the last 6 years and came to know about it only after when we lost our first child 4 years back. Since then we both are taking ARV. Last year we decided, after consultation with the doctor, to go for a child. Subsequently my wife conceived and started taking medicines as prescribed by the doctor and gave birth to a baby boy under the doctor's supervision. After 9 months, the doctor suggested that HIV ELISA test be done for the baby. We got the tests done and the result was positive. Will this turn negative? The doctor told us to repeat the test after 15 months, and that test will decide the status. Please suggest.

A:The usual test for HIV most often used in India is the ELISA test. It detects what are known as antibodies to the HIV and not HIV itself. The fact that your boy is still testing positive does not mean that he is HIV infected. The antibodies present in the mother are transferred to the baby and will continue to give a positive response as long as they persist in the body of the child. Normally they should all be gone by the age of 18 months and therefore it is generally recommended that new babies be tested at that age. There are other tests (like HIV PCR) that can be done to give an earlier diagnosis, ask your doctor about them. They are generally not done everywhere and they may not be available where you are. Please remember that whatever the HIV status of your child, I know you will still try and look after him; don’t worry if you cannot get a test result immediately. In any case only about 1 in 3 babies gets HIV infection from an infected mother even without any treatment. Appropriate medication during pregnancy can bring this rate down to very low levels.


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