HIV In Infants and Children

HIV/AIDS Awareness ribbons against a black background

HIV Infection in Infants and Children

The
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has a lead
role in research devoted to children infected with HIV (human
immunodeficiency virus), the virus that causes AIDS (acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome). NIAID-supported researchers are developing
and refining treatments to prolong the survival and improve the quality
of life of HIV-infected infants and children through the Pediatric AIDS
Clinical Trials Group (PACTG). The PACTG is a nationwide clinical trials
network jointly sponsored by NIAID and the National Institute of Child
Health and Human Development (NICHD). NIAID also supports research on
ways to prevent mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV through the
PACTG and its HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN), a global clinical
trials network designed to test promising nonvaccine strategies to
prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

In this era of antiretroviral therapy, epidemiologic studies such as
NIAID’s Women and Infant’s Transmission Study (WITS) are examining risk
factors for transmission as well as the course of HIV disease in
pregnant women and their babies. Researchers have helped illuminate the
mechanisms of HIV transmission, the distinct features of pediatric HIV
infection, and how the course of disease and the usefulness of therapies
can differ in children and adults.

A GLOBAL PROBLEM

According to UNAIDS (The Joint United
Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) at the end of 2003, an estimated 2.5
million children worldwide under age 15 were living with HIV/AIDS.
Approximately 500,000 children under 15 had died from the virus or
associated causes in that year alone. As HIV infection rates rise in the
general population, new infections are increasingly concentrating in
younger age groups.