Lessons from a seven-year experience of paediatric HIV in Pakistan: A single centre experience.

The objective of this study was to describe demographic, clinical and immunologic features of children with human immunodeficiency virus.

This descriptive study was conducted at the Shifa International Hospital, Islamabad, Pakistan, from 2005 to 2011, and comprised children with human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Patients with detailed physical examination and appropriate investigations and those eligible for therapy were included. SPSS 21 was used for data analysis.

Of the 43 patients, 27(62.8%) were boys and 16(37.2%) were girls. The overall median age was 5 years (interquartile range: 3-8.5 years). Moreover, 18(42%) children were aged equal to or below 5 years. Fathers of 5(12%) children and mothers of 6(14%) children had died. Siblings of 3(7%) patients, fathers of 20(47%) patients and mothers of 31(72%) patients had human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The median duration of breastfeeding was 24 months (interquartile range: 15-24 months). Risk factors identified were foreign job by father in 12(28%) patients, birth by vaginal delivery in 20(47%), breastfeeding >6 months in 34(79%), fathers with human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome in 20(47%), mothers with human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome in 31(72%) and lack of maternal anti-retrovirals during pregnancy in all (100%). There were 27(63%) children being symptomatic and 29(67%) had advanced disease at diagnosis with World Health Organisation’s classification stage 3 or 4. The pretreatment median CD4 count was 294.5 cells/mm3 (IQR, 208.5-808) and a follow-up CD4 of 757 cells/mm3 (IQR, 352-874) which was significant (p <0.005). The intial median HIV viral load was 83 RNA copiesx105/mm3 (IQR, 1.8-8.25). Anti-retroviral therapy (ARV) was initiated in 65% (28/43) with good compliance. The mean duration of follow-up was 12 months. There was clinical and immunologic improvement in 65% (18/28) in first 12 months. There were opportunistic infections in 20 children (46%), serious side effects in 5 (18%), progression of disease or poor response in 7 (16%) and discontinuation or switch of therapy in 2 (7%). Four children had suspected HIV drug resistance but confirmed in 2 (6.7%) requiring second-line therapy. Five children (12%) died, two within one week of diagnosis.

Most human immunodeficiency virus-infected children had risk factors, present with severe immune suppression and had improved CD-4 after anti-retroviral therapy.