: Victorian HIV Consultancy, The Alfred
In 2018 it was estimated that, worldwide, some 1.7 million children aged less than 15 years had the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the majority in sub–Saharan Africa. In the same year, approximately 160,000 more children were diagnosed, primarily through mother-to-child transmission.
The effect of HIV in children
As children’s immune systems are not fully developed, children with HIV can become more acutely unwell than adults. Children with HIV are less able to fight off common childhood illnesses than children without HIV, meaning they may become sicker, develop more serious sequelae or fatal consequences. Common problems seen in HIV-positive children include pneumonia, tuberculosis, meningitis, and skin infections while diarrhoeal disease in developing countries remains a killer in children.
The most effective strategy in paediatric HIV is in prevention – particularly prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus, through effective pregnancy management.