Background: Language impairment (LI) risk is increased for perinatally acquired human immunodeficiency virus-infected (PHIV) and perinatally exposed to HIV but uninfected (PHEU) youth. This study evaluates the persistence of LI in these groups.
Methods: The Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals was repeated on participants of the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study Adolescent Master Protocol 18 months postbaseline. Regression models identified factors associated with change in standardized score (SC) and the resolution or development of LI.
Results: Of 319 participants, 112 had LI at baseline. Upon re-evaluation, SCs were highly stable and changes were similar in PHIV (n = 212) and PHEU (n = 107) participants. Those with family history of language delays had a 2.39 point lower mean increase in SCs than those without, after controlling for demographic and socioeconomic factors and baseline LI status. Among PHIV participants, CD4 count <350 cells/mm3 was associated with lower mean SC change (4.32 points), and exposure to combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) or protease inhibitors (PIs) was associated with a higher mean SC change (5.93 and 4.19 points, respectively). Initial LI was persistent in most cases (78%); 20 new cases occurred (10%). Female sex was associated with higher odds of LI resolution. Among PHIV, duration and baseline cART and history of PI use were associated with LI resolution; higher percentage of detectable viral loads before baseline was associated with lower odds of resolution.
Conclusions: The PHIV and PHEU youth are at risk for persistent LI, and family history of language delays was a risk factor for persistence of problems. Measures of successful HIV treatment predicted more favorable outcomes among PHIV youth.
Keywords: antiretroviral therapy; language development; language impairment; perinatal HIV; youth.
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