As is discussed in our lesson focusing on HIV and pregnancy, we have made tremendous progress in terms of reducing the risk of HIV-positive pregnant women giving birth to babies who are also infected with the virus. Provided that an HIV-positive woman takes good care of herself and her developing baby—which includes getting proper prenatal care and beginning a drug regimen that contains Retrovir (zidovudine)—the risk of HIV transmission is less than 2 percent. Good news, indeed, for all HIV-positive women who are pregnant…or hope to become pregnant.
This good news, however, means very little to the estimated 10,000-plus children in the United States who are already infected with the virus. But to be an HIV-positive child is not nearly as dire as it once was. As we have been seeing with adults infected with the virus, controlling HIV in young patients has dramatically improved in recent years. Approximately a decade ago, a pediatric HIV diagnosis was associated with a dismal prognosis: most infected children would die before their fifth birthday. Today, thanks to early access to care and advances in HIV drug treatment, approximately half of all HIV-infected children will live to enter—and graduate—from high school and beyond. And with more information quickly emerging with respect to how HIV-infected children should be treated, we can expect the success rate to improve significantly.
This lesson focuses specifically on the special needs of children living with HIV. Here
, you will learn some basic information about HIV infection in children, including the differences between HIV in children and adults and specific treatments available for HIV-positive children.
Caring for a child who is HIV positive comes with many challenges. We sincerely hope that this lesson will provide readers with the necessary information, not only to better understand children and HIV, but also to enhance communication with pediatric health care providers.