HIV Treatment: Why Children’s Cholesterol Levels Are High

HIV treatment has come a long way since AIDS was discovered in 1982. More than 1,000 children a day are diagnosed worldwide.  High cholesterol is common in adults and children with HIV. As reported yesterday, recent research has found children with HIV typically still have high cholesterol levels during treatment with antiretroviral medications according to JAIDS: Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.  What this means is that children who are unfortunate enough to be HIV-positive still run the risk of developing cardiovascular problems as a result of their treatment. According to a recent press release, “The new research highlights the ‘urgent need’ for specific guidelines to manage lipid levels and control long-term cardiovascular risks in children with HIV, according to an editorial by Dr. Allison C. Ross of Emory University, Atlanta, and Dr. Grace A. McComsey of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland.”

With the new antiviral drugs available, children with HIV are now expected to have much longer lives. The problem is that if these drugs put these children at a greater risk for cardiovascular problems, then these children could face new and other problems. As reported, the researchers “believe the best strategy is likely to be a combined approach consisting of a ‘lipid-friendly’ drug regimen along with non-drug treatments (such as diet and exercise). More research is needed to evaluate these and other strategies — including the role of cholesterol-lowering medications.”

Fast Facts about Children with HIV:

(All facts and figure’s below are thanks to Avert.  AVERT is an international HIV and AIDS charity, based in the UK, working to avert HIV and AIDS worldwide, through education, treatment and care.)

* Nine out of 10 children infected with HIV were infected through their mother either during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or breastfeeding.

* HIV treatment for children slows the progress of HIV infection and allows infected children to live much longer, healthier lives. Yet, almost three-quarters of the children who could be benefiting from this therapy in low and middle-income countries are not receiving it.

* Of the 1.8 million people who died of AIDS during 2009, one in seven was a child. Every hour, around 30 children die as a result of AIDS.

*Most children living with HIV/AIDS – almost 9 in 10 – live in sub-Saharan Africa, the region of the world where AIDS has taken its greatest toll.

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