AIDS in Brazilian children: history, surveillance, antiretroviral therapy, and epidemiologic transition, 1984-2008

AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2011 Apr;25(4):245-55. doi: 10.1089/apc.2010.0378. Epub 2011 Mar 17.


We present a systematic review of historical, political, and epidemiologic aspects of AIDS in Brazilian children. Over 25 years, Brazil has developed different strategies to control AIDS in children. Three revisions of criteria for defining AIDS cases in children and nine national guidelines on antiretroviral therapy administration for management of HIV infection were published. These guidelines represent important progress, including aspects of HIV/AIDS surveillance, antiretroviral treatment, opportunistic conditions, prophylaxis, and laboratory testing. Brazil has significantly expanded access to free therapy with different classes of antiretroviral drugs. Initially focusing on treatment for HIV and opportunistic conditions, the scope of treatment guidelines gradually expanded to comprehensive health care for children and adolescents. From 1996 to 2008, the number of AIDS cases and deaths in children has been reduced by 67% and 65%, respectively, as a result of different strategies to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV and highly active antiretroviral therapy administration to infected children. Improved morbidity, mortality, and survival of Brazilian children with AIDS demonstrate clear benefits of adopting a policy of free and universal access to antiretroviral drugs associated with comprehensive care. However, important issues remain to be resolved, mainly concerning social, operational, and regional inequalities in coverage and quality of care, and epidemiological surveillance in different regions of the country. This broad review shows that the overall situation of pediatric AIDS in Brazil represents an incomplete process of epidemiologic and demographic transition, with the coexistence of old and new clinical and epidemiologic challenges.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome* / drug therapy
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome* / history
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome* / mortality
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome* / transmission
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • HIV Infections* / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections* / history
  • HIV Infections* / mortality
  • HIV Infections* / transmission
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Morbidity
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Survival Rate


  • Anti-HIV Agents