The Paediatric HIV Diagnostic Unit has for the past decade advocated early infant diagnosis (EID) of HIV infection to monitor the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme, identify HIV-infected infants for care and provide permanency planning for HIV-exposed, abandoned infants.

This has been achieved by:

  • research to deliver accurate, affordable HIV tests made more accessible by using dried blood spot samples;
  • training local and provincial healthcare workers to sample blood from six-week old babies and interpret test results including development and provision of training materials.
  • bridging the gap between healthcare and laboratory facilities and personnel to assist with service delivery of infant diagnosis of HIV by assisting with logistical problems e.g. procurement or result retrieval and being active in service delivery forums such as the Gauteng PMTCT working group;
  • monitoring HIV PCR tests performed from the laboratory information system and devising proxies for early vertical HIV transmission rates at district and provincial level;
  • advocacy for early infant diagnosis; and
  • provision of expert technical assistance for international and national diagnostic guidelines.

For a report on the Early infant diagnosis of HIV infection in South Africa: 2008 to 2010, click here
For the Standard Operating Procedure to assist healthcare workers in taking blood from infants for the HIV PCR test, click here
For the dried blood spot collection poster, click here 

For the 2012 report on “The evaluation of the early infant diagnosis service in primary health care facilities in South Africa: Report on results of a situational assessment”, click here

Head of the NPP Early Infant Diagnosis Unit:
Prof Gayle Sherman

Training officer:
Sister Tsakani Mhlongo