Pediatric HIV infection. An update.
Human immunodeficiency virus infection is a leading cause of immunodeficiency in children. The epidemic in children parallels that in women since most infected women are in the child-bearing age groups. The risk of vertical transmission of HIV from an infected mother to her infant ranges from 13% to 39%. Diagnosis of infection in the infant is complicated by the passive transfer of antibody across the placenta, making the use of standard serologic tests to confirm infection difficult. In children less than 15 months of age, a positive p24 core antigen test, a positive viral culture or AIDS defining criteria with immune abnormalities are required for diagnosis. HIV infection in children is chronic and multisystem characterized by immunologic and clinical deterioration with a higher incidence of serious bacterial infections, neurologic disease, and lymphoid interstitial pneumonitis. The cornerstones of management include close medical follow-up, good nutrition, and prompt diagnosis and treatment of infections. Certain children will benefit from therapeutic modalities such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia prophylaxis and/or intravenous gamma globulin. The antiretroviral drugs have improved the quality of life and increased survival. Several newer antiviral agents are presently in clinical trials.
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