Early Identification, Treatment Needed for HIV-Positive, HIV-Exposed Infants, Children, Opinion Piece Says
Despite recent improvements in preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission, "there is a group of vulnerable children who may be infected with HIV because neither they nor their mothers were tested," Jill Foster, director of pediatric and adolescent HIV/AIDS at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, and Judith Silver, director of the Child Welfare Early Childhood Initiative at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, write in a Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece. The "key" to allowing HIV-positive children to "live normal lives" is "early identification and early initiation of treatment," according to Foster and Silver, both of whom are members of the Pennsylvania Children's Health Coalition Subcommittee on Children in Substitute Care. In order to protect the health of infants and children, Pennsylvania should continue to support efforts to give prenatal care, HIV/AIDS education and HIV testing to pregnant women, the authors write. In addition, the state Department of Public Welfare should require public agencies to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines on the identification and care of infants, children and youth who are HIV-positive or have been exposed to HIV, the authors state. "With increased HIV screening of pregnant women and newborns, we have the opportunity to make perinatal HIV a rare disease, one that will be caught early and medically managed," Foster and Silver write, concluding, "We hope that Pennsylvania will take on this challenge and make sure no children in our state suffer needlessly with undetected HIV" (Foster/Silver, Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.