Most untreated African HIV children will die by age 3

Almost 90% of HIV-infected children in Africa fail to survive until their third birthday. Once an AIDS-related condition occurs, more than half of infected children die within 12 months, according to results of a study conducted in Malawi. Dr. Taha E. Taha, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues call their study “one of the largest studies of HIV-infected children who have been followed in sub-Saharan Africa.”

For about 18 months, the investigators followed 190 HIV-infected children, 499 uninfected children born to HIV-positive mothers, and 119 uninfected children born to HIV-negative mothers. Eighty-nine percent of HIV-infected African children alive at 6 months died by age 3, the authors report in the December issue of Pediatrics. In comparison, in a European study, only 18% of HIV-infected children died by age 3 years, and a US study found that 75% lived to age 5 years, the report indicates.

The researchers suggest that improved management of persistent diarrhoea and chronic middle-ear infections would “substantially reduce” deaths in this population. “Efforts to make available simple diagnostic tests and procedures to help clinicians provide better care for the children of developing countries should be a priority,” Taha and colleagues conclude.

Ref: Pediatrics 2000;106.

Source: CDC HIV/STD/TB Prevention News Update

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