A project of the New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center. Partially funded by the National Library of Medicine
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Fact Sheet Number 612
CHILDREN AND HIV
HOW SERIOUS IS HIV FOR
Where antiretroviral medications (ARVs)
and good medical care for pregnant women
are available, new infections of children are
rare. Anyone age 13 or younger is counted
as a child in US health statistics. In 1992,
almost 1,000 children were infected. By
2002, there were just 92 new infections.
African-American newborns are much more
likely to be infected than children of other
Most children with HIV were born to mothers
with HIV. Others got a transfusion of
infected blood. In the developed world,
blood for transfusions is screened and most
pregnant women are taking ARVs. See fact
pregnancy and HIV.
Infected mothers can pass HIV to their
newborns. This happens where mothers do
not get good medical care while they are
pregnant. It also happens where ARVs are
transfusions is not always screened.
immune systems are
developing. They have a different response
to HIV infection. CD4 cell counts (see fact
sheet 124) and viral load counts (see fact
sheet 125) are higher than in adults. An
infant’s viral load usually declines until age 4
or 5. Then it stabilizes.
Children also respond differently to ARVs.
They have larger increases in CD4 cell
counts and more diverse CD4 cells. They
seem to recover more of their immune
response than adults.
Infants have more fat and water in their
the amount of
medication available. Children have a very
high rate of metabolism. This gradually
slows as they mature.
The liver processes drugs and removes
them from the body. It tak