Objectives: The outcome of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) in HIV-infected infants is poor, and the role of cytomegalovirus (CMV) co-infection in the course and outcome of PCP is unclear. This study describes the prevalence, clinical characteristics, management and changes in survival over time of vertically HIV-infected infants developing PCP and/or CMV infection.
Methods: Data on children with HIV, born in the UK and Ireland and reported to the National Study of HIV in Pregnancy and Childhood, with PCP and/or CMV were combined with clinical information collected from reporting paediatricians.
Results: By April 1998, 340 vertically HIV-infected children had been reported, of whom 93 had PCP and/or CMV, as their first AIDS indicator disease; 85 (91%) were infants. Among infants with PCP, 79% were born to mothers not diagnosed as HIV infected, and there was an independent and statistically significant association with breast-feeding, being black African, and developing CMV disease. Median survival after PCP and/or CMV was significantly better in those born between 1993 and 1998 compared with those born before 1993 (P = 0.009), and worse than after other AIDS diagnoses (P = 0.01). Infants with dual infection were more likely to be ventilated (P = 0.003) and receive corticosteroids (P = 0.002) than those with PCP alone.
Conclusion: Although survival from PCP and CMV has improved over time, these remain serious and potentially fatal infections among infants in whom maternal HIV status is not recognized in pregnancy. Breast-feeding increases the risk of combined PCP and CMV infection, which is associated with severe disease.