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New Drugs Cut Opportunistic Infections in HIV+ Children

But for many HIV-infected children worldwide, the problem is access to therapy

TUESDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Opportunistic infections in HIV-infected children plummeted after the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), researchers report in the July 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Philimon Gona, Ph.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues compared the incidence of 29 opportunistic infections in 3,331 HIV-infected children before the advent of HAART (1988-1998) and in 2,767 children after the medications became available (2000-2004).

The researchers found opportunistic infections were much lower after the introduction of HAART than before. The incidence ratio for bacterial pneumonia was 11.1 per 100 person-years before HAART versus 2.15 afterwards; for herpes zoster it was 2.9 before and 1.11 per 100 person-years after; and for oral candidiasis it was 1.2 before and 0.93 per 100 person-years after.

"Opportunistic infections and other related infections are uncommon in children in the HAART era," the authors write.

In an accompanying editorial, Joseph I. Harwell, M.D., of Brown Medical School in Providence, R.I., and a colleague write: "For 2.3 million children living with HIV infection worldwide, the question is not whether or how but when they will receive (and, like their counterparts in the study by Gona et al, benefit from) the therapy that will allow them to reach adulthood."

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