Diseases and Conditions
Pediatric HIV Today
The Good News
In two short decades, the prognosis for children born to HIV-infected women in Boston has dramatically changed. The risk of HIV infection for an infant born to a pregnant woman infected with HIV has declined from 25% to less than 5%! Anti-HIV medicines have improved the duration and quality of life for HIV-infected infants and children. Despite these advances, difficult medical and social burdens for HIV-infected children have emerged.
The Bad News
Living with this chronic illness is challenging. This devastating illness affects entire families. It's a daily struggle. Living with HIV requires constant commitment and dedication, especially to the complex medication regimens that are the cornerstone of today's treatment. These children face difficult emotional and psychosocial concerns related to their diagnosis. Many families try to protect their children by keeping the diagnosis secret, even from other family members. Some who have shared the diagnosis find their children isolated from peers. From infancy on, children infected with HIV must adhere to difficult routines.
"Each dose of medication reminds me of our disease. I try to make medication time a positive experience, since this is something she will probably have to do the rest of her life."
— The mother of a 2-year old infected child.
"I'm tired of taking all of these pills. Why does it matter anyway?"
— An 11-year old infected girl swallowing her afternoon dose.
Growing Up with HIV
The successes of the past decade mean more HIV-infected children are living into their adolescent years. In addition to the daily struggles of adolescence, teens burdened by HIV also face unique problems, such as learning about their diagnosis for the first time in some cases, understanding how they became infected, taking medication daily, confronting ignorance and secrecy surrounding HIV/AIDS, feeling the anxiety when others learn their diagnosis and struggling to succeed in school.
The Pediatric HIV/AIDS Clinic at Boston Medical Center helps children and families affected with this chronic disease live with these challenges.