Operational evaluation of HIV Point of Care tests for very early infant HIV diagnostics in infants born to HIV infected mothers in Mbeya, Tanzania
HIV in infants is mainly vertically transmitted by infected mothers and is associated with high mortality rates if no antiretroviral treatment is provided. Accurate HIV diagnosis in infants is only feasible by detection of HIV nucleic acid (HIV-RNA or -DNA) and therefore HIV early infant diagnostic (EID) screening is routinely performed at the age of 6 weeks from dried blood samples requiring specialized laboratory facilities and multiple step linkage procedures for result dissemination. In the present BABY study HIV point of care tests (POC) will be evaluated in infants born to HIV infected mothers to evaluate for the operational feasibility as well as specificity, sensitivity and predictive values to detect infant HIV at birth, weeks 1, 2, 3 and 6. The rationally is to implement infant HIV bed side tests at obstetric/maternity clinics providing immediate diagnostic test results and in consequence avoiding the need of specialized laboratory facilities as error prone linkage procedures. Furthermore, the possibility of infant HIV diagnosis as early as the time of birth opens the possibility for earlier infant antiretroviral treatment initiation resulting into a possible further reduction of HIV related infant mortality/morbidity.