Serodiagnosis of HIV infection in infants born to HIV-infected mothers is problematic due to the prolonged presence of maternal antibodies in infants. Nucleic acid-based amplification assays have been used to overcome this problem. Here a simplified, one-tube, real-time, duplex reverse transcription PCR (RT PCR) assay is shown to detect HIV-1 total nucleic acid (TNA) isolated from dried blood spots. The detection of TNA, as opposed to DNA alone, increases the HIV target molecules and thus makes the assay more robust. This method was used to detect HIV from the DBS collected from HIV-1 exposed infants and young children in Uganda (n=128) and Cameroon (n=315). The gold-standards used were a plasma viral assay in Uganda and Amplicor DNA assay in Cameroon. The concordance of this real-time assay and the gold standards was 99.2% (127/128) and 99.4% (313/315) with the Ugandan and Cameroonian samples, respectively. This simple and cost-effective assay is potentially useful for the diagnosis of pediatric HIV infection and for evaluating programs to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1.