HIV treatment for children | Western Cape Government

HIV treatment for children

One of the biggest health challenges in South Africa's is HIV and AIDS. 

Of the approximately 60.60m people currently living in South Africa, an estimated 13.9% are HIV positive.

Little girl smiles and holds in her hand a red ribbonHow can you prevent mother-to-child transmission? 

According to StatsSA, mid-year population estimates, 2022, a quarter of South African women in their reproductive ages (15-49) are HIV positive. 

HIV is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or body fluid of someone infected with the virus. Among children with HIV, most cases are due to a mother passing HIV to her baby during pregnancy or birth, or through breastfeeding.

The Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness offers several services to ensure that pregnant women and babies have access to HIV services, integrated with all the other aspects of perinatal care and care offered beyond 2 years of age.

Clinics offer HIV testing for pregnant women visiting them as a routine, and if pregnant women test positive for the virus, they will start antiretroviral therapy (ART) immediately. The clinic wil do regular HIV Testing during pregnancy and breastfeeding stages to make sure the mother who tests positive starts ART as soon as possible to prevent transmission to the baby. If you're pregnant and suspect that you might be HIV positive, visit your local clinic to receive the proper care and medication you and your unborn child may need. 

Other services offered by the Department of Health and Wellness include:

  • Prophylactic treatment for the following: Prevention-of-mother-to child-transmission (PMTCT) of syphilis, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and other infections.
  • Basic antenatal care (BANC) services, immunisation services (EPI), growth monitoring and nutrition.
  • All pregnant women (HIV-positive, HIV-negative or with unknown HIV status) receive at least 4 antenatal counselling sessions on infant feeding.
  • HIV testing for children at any stage if HIV infection is suspected.
  • Antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment when the child is HIV positive.
  • Support and counselling on how to administer the medicine to the child.
  • Antiretroviral therapy as prophylaxis when the child is exposed to HIV.
  • Monitoring of viral load and CD4 counts if HIV positive.
  • Tuberculosis (TB) screening, TB Preventative Therapy (TPT), and opportunistic infection (OI) prophylaxis.
  • Community-based support for adherence to medicine and infant feeding support.

Mother holding babyGetting the help you and your baby need

The scope of services available for children is the same as for adults, meaning the same antiretroviral therapy is available for children and adults. Most medicine for children is in child-friendly formulations (liquid, soluble granules, chewable tablets).

Children can access care at:

Read more about the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), children, adolescents and adults in the Western Cape Consolidated Guidelines for HIV Treatment.

December is Aids Awareness Month and an opportunity for us to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV and remember those who have passed away.


The content on this page was last updated on 28 November 2022