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Accuracy rate of HIV testing for infants
Jul 1, 2004

I want to adopt an infant internationally and do not know what HIV tests to request. How accurate (percentage-wise) is the PCR test for a three-month old baby? What about for a six-month old? If a baby tests HIV negative on an ELIZA test, is that reliable, or could the child still develop HIV, if, for example, the birthmother contracted the disease during pregnancy and had not yet developed antibodies at the time of birth to pass on to the child? Would a test of the birthmother also be helpful for diagnosing the child, or would it be redundant because the baby's antibodies and the mother's would be largely the same? Thank you.

Response from Dr. Lee

PCR testing is generally very accurate at three and six months of age. The antibody tests are less reliable, although negative tests are more reliable than positive tests. Knowing the birthmother's status is most helpful, because if she remains negative the child's risk of having birth transmitted HIV is nonexistent. If the birth mother is negative, the child has a negaitve antibody test and a negative PCR, the risk of the child having HIV is essentially zero.

Best wishes on your adoption.

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