HIV-Positive Children More Likely to Experience Delay in Puberty, Study Says
Children who contracted HIV "at or before birth" through vertical transmission are more likely to experience puberty later than their HIV-negative peers, Reuters Health reports. The study, conducted by Dr. Maurizo de Martino of the University of Florence in Italy and published in the journal AIDS, followed 107 girls from age eight to 15 and 105 boys from age nine to 16 who contracted HIV from their mothers. Girls who were HIV-positive had an average two-year delay in the onset of puberty, while HIV-positive boys had an average delay of one year, when compared to the average age of puberty among their uninfected peers. Late-stage puberty was delayed by 2.5 years in HIV-positive girls and 1.5 years in HIV-positive boys. HIV-positive children tend to be shorter than other children, which the authors link to the delay in puberty. The researchers conclude, "A deeper knowledge of the mechanisms that lead to delayed puberty could guide development-promoting strategies, saving much psychological distress for these adolescents. Furthermore, better understanding of the mechanisms leading to delayed puberty in girls and boys with perinatally acquired HIV infections might lead to appropriate treatment when required" (Reuters Health, 9/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.