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HIV and AIDS are concepts that are related, but they are not the same. Having an infection with the HIV virus means that the agent is present in a person's body, without more. When HIV generates a significant decrease in defenses and / or certain problems appear (opportunistic infections, involvement of the central nervous system), we speak of AIDS. The aim of treatment is to prevent the progression of the HIV virus infection.
Since Guiainfantil.com we want to tell you some aspects about this infection, but above all we want to emphasize the symptoms and diagnosis of AIDS in babies, children and adolescents.
HIV infection continues to be a global public health problem. Furthermore, the magnitude of the problem is very uneven across countries. Thus, there is an inversely proportional relationship between the number of cases and the socioeconomic level.
In recent years, human immunodeficiency virus infection has changed substantially, especially in the most developed socio-economic countries, as a policy of prevention of vertical transmission (from mother to child) has been generalized and infections have been intensified. treatments.
Children are an innocent bystander to HIV infection. The main contagion route is vertical. That is, it is transmitted mostly from mothers to children, well during pregnancy, at the time of delivery or while breastfeeding. But let's not forget that the sexual way of contagion is possible. Thus, adolescents are advised to carry out a correct sexual education.
Is it possible to avoid contagion by this vertical route?
Vertical transmission can be reduced through several strategies: identification and treatment of infected pregnant women, elective caesarean section in case the mother's viral load is very high and / or poor control of pregnancy, and recommendation not to start breastfeeding if the mother has the infection and there is sufficient and safe artificial milk in the child's country.
What are the clinical symptoms derived from HIV infection?
They are very diverse, and depend on the age of the minor. In infants, we can observe a certain degree of delay in neurological development, with late acquisition of milestones such as sitting, walking, etc. In addition, we can see an increase in the size of the lymph nodes, as well as some organs of the gut (liver, spleen). Another very typical fact is the repeated appearance of fungus in the mouth, and that these respond very badly to medication.
Above two years of life, there is a tendency to recurrent infections that resolve very slowly, such as pneumonia, diarrhea, sinusitis. In older children and adolescents, the symptoms are similar to those in adults: fever, general malaise, tiredness, skin spots, weight loss, memory loss, opportunistic infections, etc.
When is an HIV-infected child diagnosed with AIDS?
When your immune system is severely damaged or other types of infections occur, more common complications or symptoms such as lack of energy, weight loss, fever or frequent sweating, persistent skin rashes or peeling, frequent or persistent yeast infections (oral or vaginal infections), short-term memory loss, severe or unusual infections ("opportunistic infections"), or frequent or persistent yeast infections (oral or vaginal).
Although these symptoms are the most frequent, it should not be forgotten that each child can experience it differently.
Is HIV disease considered fatal?
No, the therapeutic protocols currently in force in developed countries have made HIV infection a controlled chronic process, so children with good therapeutic compliance reach adulthood without problems. The main incidence that is being observed is the so-called early immunosenescence. That is, their immune system ages prematurely, a fact that predisposes them from the theoretical point of view to the development of other processes.
How is HIV infection diagnosed?
The presence of the virus in the child must be demonstrated. In children under 18 months, to establish the diagnosis, the presence of the virus must be demonstrated at least twice at different times. Normally, children of mothers with HIV infection are screened on the first or second day of life, at one month and at 4-6 months. Over 18 months, serological tests (detect antibodies to HIV) can also be done.
Are routine vaccinations recommended for children with HIV?
In general, yes, but its indication must be supervised by a pediatrician, since vaccines with live attenuated agents can be dangerous if the child's immune system is severely affected.
What is the treatment to follow?
Treatment will be prescribed by a pediatrician who is an expert in infectious diseases, and if possible, he or she will work in a specific unit with sufficient experience in caring for patients with AIDS. The therapeutic protocols currently in force include several drugs, and their mission is to slow down the impairment of immunity.
The most important thing in standing up to HIV is taking preventive measures, both at the community and individual level. It is very important to know the routes of contagion (vertical transmission, sexual contact, contact through blood). In addition, it is important to know that there are safe routes for the transmission of HIV / AIDS (saliva, tears, swimming pools, telephones, toilet seats, insect bites or casual contact such as sharing food utensils, towels and bedding).
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