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Understanding HIV/AIDS in Children: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention



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Understanding HIV/AIDS in Children: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

What is HIV/AIDS? 
HIV/AIDS is a disease that attacks cells assisting the body in fighting against infection. HIV/AIDS has a long-term effect on the child’s growth and development and has severe physical consequences, affecting the brain or lungs and increasing the risk of infections.

What are the causes? 
HIV spreads through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. Children can contract HIV through contact with their mothers via infected breast milk or during childbirth, especially if the mother has failed to take antiretroviral treatment. 

How do children get it? 
Children acquire HIV/AIDS from their mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or when breastfeeding. 

What are the symptoms? 
The symptoms are highly variable but may include: 

  • Inflamed lymph nodes 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Pneumonia 
  • Poor growth 
  • Thrush in the mouth 
  • Loss of weight, loss of appetite 

What does a diagnosis entail? 
Virological tests performed through blood samples takes place at least two days after birth and then regularly after two months, and then again as soon as the baby turns six months. Children older than eighteen months undergo blood tests to check for the HIV antibody. 

How do you treat HIV/AIDS? 
Antiretrovirals are drugs to ease symptoms of HIV and minimise its advancement to AIDS. A CD4 cell count, viral load and resistance to medications determine the stage of HIV/AIDS. 

What is the result? 
There’s no permanent treatment for HIV/AIDS. Once the virus infiltrates the blood, it remains there. Symptoms of HIV can only be managed through antiretroviral therapy. 

What does prevention for HIV/AIDS entail? 
Mothers who screen for HIV at their prenatal consultation and begin receiving antiretroviral therapy reduce their babies' risk of transmission significantly. Early HIV screening prevents the risk of the early development of AIDS. 

HIV/AIDS is a viral disease that affects cells fighting against infection. Early signs of HIV are swollen lymph nodes, a sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue and headaches. There is no treatment for HIV, as the condition can only be managed through the regular intake of antiretrovirals. 

To book your consultation contact; 

Dr. Thabile Gcaba 
Specialist Paediatrician  
083 643 8400 83  
Ismail C Meer Street, Durban