More Than Half of HIV-Positive Children and Teenagers Remain Undiagnosed

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There were a series of HIV testing through local clinics in Zimbabwe. However, there are still almost 40% of HIV-positive children who remained undiagnosed.

This highlighted the need of the community-based volunteers to reach out to UNAIDS. Furthermore, they aim to ask assistance in diagnosing at least 90 percent of the children and teenagers who might be infected by 2020.

The HIV Testing

The MRC Tropical Epidemiology Group Leader, Dr. Victoria Simms, Ph.D., states that the group is testing the HIV-exposed infants for the disease. This is part of their prevention of the mother to child HIV transmission programs. Consequently, the problem is only 51 percent of the exposed infants in high-burden countries receive access the early infant diagnosis.

They perform an additional test to examine the burden of the undiagnosed HIV infection for children and teenagers. The researchers conducted a cross-sectional survey in Zimbabwe. Also, these surveys covered children aged 8 to 17.

These children reside in seven different communities. Primary health clinics overlook the health of people in these communities. The health clinics were also trained and exposed to the provider-initiated counseling and testing.

The Questionnaire

The caregivers completed a questionnaire. Meanwhile, a series of oral mucosal transudate (OMT) test was conducted to test participants. If they observe one false-negative result in a patient who received the test, the researchers began to test their urine samples. This is to check if there are antiretroviral drugs that will confirm the HIV status of the children and teenagers.

They received positive results in test related to the participant’s gender, birthday, and their locations. In addition, out of 7,146 test individuals, 141 of them were HIV-positive.  Meanwhile, urine test showed 34.7 percent were positive.

Through the testing, the researchers were able to determine that the provider-initiated counseling and testing were able to identify 18 to 42% of the children and teenagers who are HIV-positive. The study also showed that children and teenagers with undiagnosed infection are either orphans, showing few symptoms, and did not receive proper care through health care facilities.