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HIV infection in children - impact upon ENT doctors

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Simon Hoare


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The global epidemic of HIV infection remains appalling. By 2001, there were an estimated 1.4 million HIV-infected children, with 4.5 million deaths. In the UK, paediatric cases are clustered around population centres where there are high concentrations of infected immigrant adults, and to a lesser extent, areas where IV drug abuse is common. The highest incidence remains in London and the southeast. With the national redistribution of immigrant and refugee families, any doctor in any speciality may expect to be involved with children who are HIV positive, or have clinical AIDS. The majority of children are infected vertically, i.e. infection of the infant from an infected mother in the pre-, peri-, or post-natal periods. Rates of transmission vary from 15-20% in the developed countries. Children with HIV infection may have their primary presentation to ENT doctors, who should have appropriate thresholds for suspecting the diagnosis. The most common presenting features include persistent generalised lymphadenopathy, hepatosplenomegaly, chronic/ recurrent diarrhoea, poor growth, and fever. Fifteen to twenty percent of untreated children will present with an AIDS-defining illness by 12 months, typically with Pneumocystis pneumonia at similar to3-4 months of age. Seventy percent of perinatally infected children will exhibit some signs or symptoms by 12 months Without treatment, the median age to progression to AIDS is similar to6 years, and 25-30% will have died by this age. The median age of death is similar to9 years. Children may also present with repeated /unusual ear infections, sinus disease (inc. mastoiditis), tonsillitis, orbital / peri -orbital cellulitis, oral candidiasis, and dental infections. Infections with streptococcus pneumoniae and group A streptococcus are common, and often progress to severe systemic infection with an appreciable mortality. Infections may be due to unusual pathogens such as Pseudomonas, 'typical' and atypical Mycobacteria, Candida, Aspergillus, etc. Fungal infections of the sinuses (inc. Aspergillus and Rhizopus spp.) may be particularly devastating, with rapid spread to involve bone and the central nervous system. Another classical presentation, which may present to ENT doctors, is that of bilateral parotid enlargement, especially in children who are 'slow progressors', many of whom also have Lymphoid Interstitial Pneumonitis (LIP). A major attitudinal change has occurred due to advances in 3 main areas: (i) the multidisciplinary management of the infected mother (inc. counselling, antenatal screening, elective caesarean section, advising against breast feeding, etc.), (ii) the prevention of vertical transmission, using anti-retroviral therapy to the infected mother during pregnancy, and to the potentially infected infant in the first weeks of life, and (iii) major advances due to the advent of highly active anti-retroviral treatment. With effective use of these measures, transmission rates may be reduced to <2%. None of the measures though, affect a cure, and it will still be many years before the development of effective vaccines. ENT doctors may be referred children already known to be HIV-positive. Knowing how to talk to-infected children (and their parents) is full of potential pitfalls, and requires careful forethought. Many infection-control policies have required considerable rethinking due to the AIDS epidemic. This has especially been the case with respect to needle-stick injuries, post-exposure prophylaxis, sterilization and re-use of equipment, and safe approaches to surgery. (C) 2003 British Association for Paediatric Otorhinolaryngology

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hoare S

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology: 8th International Congress of Paediatric Otorhinolaryngology

Year of Conference: 2003

Pages: S85-S90

ISSN: 0165-5876

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.ijport.2003.08.036

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 18728464