Fewer New York City Children Born With HIV, Study Finds
In New York City, the number of infants born with HIV has dropped, and HIV-positive children are living longer before contracting AIDS, according to a study published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, Reuters Health reports. Using data from 10 major New York City HIV care centers, Dr. Elaine Abrams and colleagues at Columbia University and Harlem Hospital Center found that by the mid-1990s, 50% of children with HIV were younger than six years old, compared to 1989-1991, when 50% of HIV-positive children were younger than three. By the late 1990s, 25% of children born with the virus were entering school or were in their teens, while in 1989-1991, only 5% of HIV-positive children were at least 9 years old. "Children born before 1995 were twice as likely to develop an AIDS-defining illness or die by their first birthday compared with children born more recently," the study authors said. They attribute their findings to a 50% reduction in the number of HIV-positive women giving birth in New York City between 1990 and 1997, and to the "widespread use" of antiretroviral drugs that decrease the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission during pregnancy and extend the lives of those born with the virus. However, researchers noted that more than 20% of HIV-positive women studied were not aware of their disease during pregnancy, and 25% of women who knew they were infected did not receive zidovudine, which can help reduce vertical transmission (Reuters Health, 7/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.