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"How does HIV affect children and adults?"

ZocdocAnswersHow does HIV affect children and adults?


What are the different effects HIV has for children and adults? My partner is pregnant and HIV positive. Obviously we're taking all the possible precautions to prevent HIV from being passed to the baby as it develops, but I still want to know what to expect if we aren't successful.


As you probably know the HIV virus attacks the human immune system. In particular it attacks the a particular type of immune cell called the T helper cell. Destruction of this cell cripples the immune system's ability to defended against many different infections including bacteria, many fungi, and viruses. Since the HIV virus attacks the same type of cell in adults as it does kids, the same types of problems exist. They will be susceptible to all the same types of infections as adults do when they develop AIDS. Kids that receive the correct medications early on will usually respond the same as adults. The only difference is that without treatment, they can progress to AIDs quicker than adults. The good news is that using the precautions you just spoke of can greatly reduce the likelihood of transmission. These include the use of medications while pregnant, and deliver by C-section. These two actions can reduce the likelihood of transmission from about 25% to about 1%. After that it is important not to breast feed because this can really increase the rate of transmission. Withe these actions taken, you can be confident that the chances of your new child getting the virus are as low as possible.

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