Objective: We sought to determine the impact of highly active antiretroviral therapy on the incidence and prevalence of opportunistic infections in HIV-infected children.
Methods: Children born from 1986 to 1998 were monitored until 2004 in the Perinatal AIDS Collaborative Transmission Study, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We determined the pre-highly active antiretroviral therapy and post-highly active antiretroviral therapy (before and after January 1, 1997, respectively) incidence rates of opportunistic infections among HIV-infected children and characterized the temporal decreases in percentages of CD4+ cells and the mortality rates among patients with and those without incident opportunistic infections.
Results: The overall opportunistic infection incidence declined from 14.4 to 1.1 cases per 100 patient-years; statistically significant reductions were seen in the incidence of the most common opportunistic infections, including Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (5.8 vs 0.3 cases per 100 patient-years), recurrent bacterial infections (4.7 vs 0.2 cases per 100 patient-years), extraocular cytomegalovirus infection (1.4 vs 0.1 cases per 100 patient-years), and disseminated nontuberculous mycobacterial infection (1.3 vs 0.2 cases per 100 patient-years). Kaplan-Meier analysis of time from birth to the first opportunistic infection illustrated more-rapid acquisition of opportunistic infections by HIV-infected children born in the pre-highly active antiretroviral therapy era than by those born later. In the first 3 years of life, there was a faster decline in the percentage of CD4+ cells among children with opportunistic infections. The mortality rate was significantly higher among children with opportunistic infections.
Conclusions: Reduction in the incidence of opportunistic infections and prolongation of the time to the first opportunistic infection were noted during the post-highly active antiretroviral therapy era. Children who experienced opportunistic infections had higher mortality rates than did those who did not. Younger children (<3 years) who experienced opportunistic infections had faster declines in percentages of CD4+ T cells.