HIV and AIDS in children

HIV-AIDS-childrenHIV is one of the worst condition ever as there is no cure for it. AIDS is the final stage of HIV and it develops when HIV virus has destroyed of T-cells in the body. One of the way to get infected by HIV virus, for children, is via contact with mum’s fluids (if she has the virus), such as breast milk.

According to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS, in the world there are 2,5 million children living with HIV/AIDS.

HIV and AIDS in children is quite a tricky question especially because not always a mum suspect her baby can have HIV until he or her develop symptoms. They can be different depending on the age of the child and on each individual, but usually those are quite common symptoms:

  • failure to thrive, to gain weight and to grow according to standard growth charts
  • problems to his/her nervour system which can lead to walking difficulty and bad performance at school
  • frequent illness, such as colds, infections and diarrhea

As HIV infection becomes more severe, children can also start to develop opportunistic infections, such as penumonia, lymphocytic interstitial pneumonitis, yeast infection (a fungal infection which can affect skin, genitals, mouth, blood and throat).

Treatments for HIV/AIDS in children are almost the same in adults: antiviral medications to avoid spread of the virus. Usually is required a combination of drugs in order to avoid the HIV virus can become resistant to a particular drug. If you know your child has HIV but he/she does not have any symptom, your doctor can decide to start treatment anyway in order to increase his/her life expectancy.

An important step is also to talk with your child about his/her condition: choose carefully words to be used but don’t hide anything to them.