Access to lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART) for pregnant women living with HIV has increased globally, but only half of the 1.4 million infants born to mothers living with HIV were tested within 2 months of birth. And among the 1.8 million children (aged 0–14 years) living with HIV, slightly more than half (52 per cent) are on treatment. This has deadly consequences. In sub-Saharan Africa, children who test positive for HIV start taking ART at an average age of 3.8 years. That is far too late for many of them: evidence shows that without timely treatment as soon as possible after their birth, one third of children with HIV will die by age one, and half by age two.
Strengthening maternal and child health is critical to improving access to testing and treatment for infants and children. Expanding early infant diagnosis, including through innovative point of care (POC) technology that delivers tests results faster, can help to ensure that infants start treatment as soon as they are diagnosed.