When is pediatric HIV infection usually identified in infants and children?

Updated: Mar 05, 2020
  • Author: Delia M Rivera, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Because vertical transmission from mother to child is the main route by which pediatric HIV infection is acquired, most children who are HIV positive should be identified in infancy. Although current treatment strategies can prevent vertical transmission, the drugs are simply not available in many places, especially in Africa.

Nevertheless, the age of presentation can be highly variable in a high-risk child who was previously unidentified. Children can be asymptomatic for many years, and the appearance of an opportunistic infection in a 10-year-old child or in an adolescent in whom AIDS is subsequently diagnosed is not rare. Children who acquire HIV by means of nonvertical transmission may have an illness during the acute phase of the retroviral syndrome, or they may present many years later with opportunistic or recurrent infections.

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