Children Born With HIV Now Teenagers Face Difficulty of Making Their Illness Public
November 24, 2003
Children who were born with HIV and who are now becoming teenagers are facing the difficult situation of telling people about their disease, the AP/Lexington Herald-Leader reports. Although infants born with HIV originally were given short life-expectancies and poor prognoses, as a result of antiretroviral therapy, "the prognos[es] brightened for a population of young survivors who have quietly but tenaciously outlived life-expectancy predictions" into adolescence, the AP/Herald-Leader reports (Irvine, AP/Lexington Herald-Leader, 11/23). According to the World Health Organization, about 800,000 infants are diagnosed with HIV each year throughout the world; most of infants contract the disease through mother-to-child transmission. The number of infants in the United States born with HIV was highest in 1991, when approximately 1,760 HIV-positive infants were born, compared with 280 infants in 2000. There are no estimates of the number of HIV-positive infants born in the 1980s and early 1990s who are still alive, according to the AP/Detroit News (AP/Detroit News, 11/23). Erin Leonard, a social worker who counsels HIV-positive teenagers at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital, said that revealing an HIV-positive status to friends and family can be "a complicated, sophisticated and terrifying task" for a teenager (AP/Lexington Herald-Leader, 11/23).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.