Management of HIV-1 infection in the paediatric age

Caterina Bonaccini, Paola Piccini, Daniele Serranti, Paola Gervaso, Luisa Galli



Introduction of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) and implementation of preventive strategies during pregnancy have resulted in a dramatic reduction of the mortality rate in HIV-1 infected children by over 80-90% and in a decrease in the risk of mother-to-child transmission (MCTC) of HIV-1 to approximately 1-2%. However the MCTC remains the main source of HIV-1 infection within the paediatric population. The risk of disease progression is inversely correlated with the age of the child, with the youngest children at greatest risk of rapid disease progression, but in the first year of life it is not possible to identify infants at greatest risk; therefore, according to all the international guidelines, it is necessary to start antiretroviral therapy in all infants < 12 months of age. This article provides a summary of the clinical features of the infection and of the methods for diagnosis. Furthermore it offers an overview of antiretroviral therapy in HIV-1 infected children, including a description of the main classes of antiretroviral drugs, the most common side effects and some issues concerning the disclosure of diagnosis. The objectives of this study are to make a set of practical suggestions to paediatricians for the optimum management of the infection and the antiretroviral therapy.


HAART; Mother-to-child transmission; AIDS; Paediatric HIV-1 infection

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