Exposure to HIV may contribute to delays and failure of the development of new-borns in the in the absence of compensatory treatment provided by extra stimulation. The earlier the children are given treatment the better as this will assist with the development and preventing HIV. It is recommended that babies born to mothers with HIV be tested between 14 - 21 days after birth, at 1 - 2 months, and again at 4 - 6 months. Testing should be done using virologic HIV which looks directly for the virus in the blood. Late initiation may result in some developmental improvement but not total reversal of neurological impairments.
Prof Joanne Potterton from WITS shared clinical results gathered during consultations. The outcomes show that all facets of development affected are present as early as 4 months in infants, gross motor development and expressive language are mostly affected and they recommend that a basic home stimulation programme taught to caregivers is effective. In pre-school children, all facets of development are delayed (in up to 50% of children), gross motor is better than in infants, visuospatial perception, cognition and speech are the most affected in pre-school children.
Gina Rencken from UKZN discussed the following methods of intervention to promote the children’s optimal function; massage therapy improves behaviour in neonates born to HIV + mothers and improved attention to child’s early development and psychosocial needs may prevent developmental delays.
The education system is the future of early childhood development. The society has to be trained and informed about the treatment measures that they need to follow when dealing of children infected and exposed to HIV.