Objective: Heterosexual contact is the predominant mode of transmission among adults in India with an increasing number of women of childbearing age becoming infected with HIV. Consequently, children in India increasingly getting infected, primarily from vertical transmission. A retrospective review of the profile of HIV infected children attending an HIV clinic in South India is reported.
Methods: All HIV-infected children under 15 years of age at the time of first presentation and managed at this center between June 1996 and June 2000 are included in this report. Socio-demographic characteristics and clinical manifestation were collected in a precoded proforme. A complete physical examination and baseline laboratory investigations were performed at entry into the clinic and at subsequent follow-up.
Results: Fifty-eight HIV-infected children were included: thirty-nine (67.2%) were male with mean age 4 years. Perinatal transmission was the predominant mode of HIV acquisition (67%). Common clinical manifestations in these children at presentation included oral candidiasis (43%), pulmonary tuberculosis (35%), recurrent respiratory infections (26%), bacterial skin infection (21%), papulo-pruritic dermatitis (19%), hepatosplenomegaly and lymphadenopathy (14%) each and chronic diarrhea (7%).
Conclusion: An understanding of the epidemiology of pediatric HIV infection may reveal opportunities to reduce and perhaps eliminate perinatal transmission. Knowledge of clinical manifestations in this setting will help physicians meet the management challenges presented by HIV infected children.