What is HIV? - HIV refers to Human Immunodeficiency Virus which is responsible to cause AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). The virus mainly attacks the immune system of the body making it weak and hence prone to various illness and diseases. According to the survey and data collected by Joint United nations Program on HIV / AIDS (JNAIDS), around 2.5million children worldwide are suffering from this disease. There are number of factors or causes that result in HIV/AIDS in children.
Causes of HIV / AIDS in Children
Mother-to-child transmission - The main cause of this disease is the mother-to-child transmission of this virus which could be during pregnancy, labor and delivery or during breastfeeding. But according to the reports from JNAIDS, it was indicated that because of increased awareness and proper medical treatment the values (500,000 children affected with HIV during perinatal and breastfeeding period in 2001) came down to 370,000 in 2009.
Blood transfusion – The virus also get transmitted through infected blood or injections (unsterilized needles) which can lead to HIV infection in children.
Illicit drug use – Virus can also be transmitted when drugs are injected in body through use of sharing of same needles.
Sexual transmission – this mode of transmission of virus is very rare in children. This mainly happens when children are sexually abuse which causes the transmission of disease.
Symptoms of HIV / AIDs in children
Symptoms of this disease mainly vary from child to child and depend on their age.
Failure to gain weight according to standardized charts put by paediatricians
Development and growth problems in child
Nervous system disorders or failure in proper development of brain accompanied by symptoms like seizures, difficulty in walking and poor concentration in school.
Frequent child illness such as cold, stomach upset, diarrhoea and ear infection.
And in advance condition, when the disease is kept untreated for long period of time in children, it results in development of opportunistic infections in children. Opportunistic infections are mainly those infection which usually does not affect body but when the immune system of the body decrease and weakens which mainly occurs in HIV infection, these opportunistic microorganism attacks the system causing various illness. Some examples of opportunistic infections associated with HIV in children are pneumocystis pneumonia which is a fungal infection of lungs, infection caused by cytomegalovirus (CMV), lymphocytic interstitial pneumonitis (LIP) and oral diseases due to candida sp. which is a yeast infection.
Hence diagnosis and proper treatment well on time is very crucial in preventing the further complicated like opportunistic infections and dangerous effects of HIV/AIDS that can even lead to child’s death.