In Study Session 27, you learnt that mother-to-child transmission of HIV during pregnancy, delivery and labour, and breastfeeding are the main sources of HIV infection in children. In this study session, we will focus on the consequences of HIV infection in children. You will first learn about the key differences in chronic HIV care between adults and children. The immune system in young children is still developing, and as a consequence HIV-infected children suffer from many more opportunistic and common infections, and also progress more rapidly to AIDS than HIV-infected adults. For these reasons, early diagnosis and treatment of HIV infection is particularly important in children.
Within your health post, you will have to establish a link between your own family-focused care and HIV care services. To do so, you will need to learn how to routinely discuss and recommend HIV testing for children born to HIV-infected mothers, and when it is appropriate to refer them. Finally, we will briefly describe important issues concerning the care of HIV-infected children, namely their nutritional status and psychosocial needs. You will learn more on the diagnosis of HIV in children, and the care for HIV-exposed infants and HIV-infected children in the Integrated Management of Newborn and Childhood Illness (IMNCI) Module.