Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), the most severe manifestation of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), has been diagnosed in more than 900 children younger than 13 years of age throughout the United States as of May 1988, 77% of whom were infected in utero or perinatally secondary to maternal infection. Risk factors for maternal infection include intravenous drug abuse or sexual contact with partners who are intravenous drug abusers or bisexual. The remainder of children, including a high proportion of hemophiliacs, have been infected by blood or clotting factor infusion between 1979 and 1985. In addition, adolescents have acquired infection through sexual activity and intravenous drug use, as well as transfusion of contaminated blood or blood factors.
The criteria for diagnosis of AIDS in children differ in some ways from those for adults, and the most recently published diagnostic criteria (Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report, Aug 14, 1987) include the expanded spectrum of disease, such as recurrent bacterial infections and encephalopathy, as well as including children with presumptive diagnosis of AIDS-associated diseases such as lymphpoid interstitial pneumonitis. There is no accurate estimate of the numbers of infected asymptomatic children or of infected children with milder symptoms that do not meet the criteria for the diagnosis of AIDS. Although most cases of pediatric HIV infection have been identified in New York City, Newark, Miami, and Los Angeles, cases are appearing in other locations. Thus, HIV infection in childhood is becoming more widespread, but in many states it is still rare.
Because the cause of AIDS is a virus transmissible from human to human, pediatric health care workers must adjust infection control guidelines to meet this new threat.
- Copyright © 1988 by the American Academy of Pediatrics