Care for HIV-Exposed Children In the First Year of Life
Shweta P. David
The care of infants born to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected mothers is unique and often challenging to healthcare providers. The progress in HIV treatment, care, and support in past years, particularly in prevention programs aimed at eliminating mother-to-child transmission, resulted in a significant number of children who were exposed to HIV in utero being born HIV-free. However, children born to HIV-infected mothers are considered vulnerable whether they are born with HIV or not. They require diligent healthcare follow up because exposure to HIV can have a negative impact on their growth and development. One of the most important goals for healthcare providers is to help these children attain a good quality of life by providing appropriate postnatal care in a timely manner. Primary care should include antiretroviral (ARV) therapy, identification of risks for HIV infection, optimization of growth and development, administration of immunizations, and screening for infectious diseases. Anticipatory guidance for the HIV-exposed child is also important. Primary care pediatric nurses and nurse practitioners require a good understanding of the needs of uninfected-HIV infants who were exposed to HIV in utero and education for their families.