Kaiser Network 11/May/05
Administering anti-retroviral (ARV ) treatment to very young, HIV-positive infants, especially when treatment starts before the age of three months, decreases the chance they will progress to the "advanced stage" of the virus by the age of three years, according to a study published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Dr David Berk of the Stanford School of Medicine and colleagues from the
California Paediatric HIV Study Group examined the medical records of 205 HIV-positive infants born in Northern California between 1988 and 2001. Of the 205 children who were monitored until the age of three ; about 65 per cent received ARV therapy and/or pneumonia prophylaxis. By the age of three, 81 of the children had progressed to an AIDS diagnosis, and 41 of those children had died.
Untreated children were significantly more likely to progress to an
advanced stage of virus, compared with children who received treatment.
Overall, about 62 per cent of the untreated children who were studied
progressed to an advanced stage of HIV, compared with 28 per cent of treated children.
After dividing the children into three groups based on their year of
birth, the researchers found that none of the HIV-positive children born
from 1996 to 2001 who received a daily regimen of at least three ARVs died before age three, but about 55 per cent of children born from 1988 to 1991 and 1992 to 1995, when combination ARV treatment was not widely used, died before the age of three.
Although children who received a three-drug combination experienced slower virus progression, the researchers found that any type of ARV treatment delayed the onset of AIDS and increased survival time.