Kids with HIV living well longer

TULANE (US) — Children born with HIV are living well into adolescence and adulthood, according to a new study that also finds advances in treatment have all but eradicated mother-to-baby transmission of the disease.

“About two thirds of these kids, at this point, don’t have virus detectable in the blood,” says Russell Van Dyke, professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Tulane University. “While they are still infected and they are not cured, it’s surprising how well they’re doing, considering what they’ve been through.”

The study is published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

Van Dyke says while death due to infection is no longer as concerning, “we’re starting to worry about longer-term complications. Some of these complications may be related to the HIV itself, or some may be related to the medications these kids are on.”

Those complications include coronary artery disease and neurological and cognitive problems. Analyzing the long-term prognosis for these patients is a “nice problem to have,” because it means their disease can be treated as chronic, more akin to diabetes than cancer.

“These kids are doing very well,” Van Dyke says. “They’re going to school and doing all of the things that kids should do. Hopefully, they will be living 50 or 60 years or more, so what’s going to happen 40 years from now is the real concern.”

More news from Tulane University: