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HIV and AIDS in Children

(continued)

Treatments for Child HIV and AIDS continued...

Treatment for HIV and AIDS is essentially the same for children as for adults: a combination of antiviral medications to keep the virus from becoming resistant to any one drug. However, there are special considerations when treating children. Some HIV drugs are not available in a liquid form that babies and small children can swallow and some drugs cause serious side effects in children.

Even if young children show no signs or symptoms of their HIV infection, doctors may choose to start treatment to improve their general heath and increase long-term survival. Doctors often decide whether to treat based on lab tests for viral load (the amount of virus in a bodily fluid) and the level of white blood cells (immune cells) called CD4 T-cells affected by HIV infection.

 

Coping With AIDS

Finding out that your child is infected with HIV is frightening. One way to cope with fear of the unknown is to learn as much as you can about HIV and AIDS. The more you know, the better you will be able to take care of your child.

To allay your child's fears, discuss the disease in an age-appropriate manner. Let your child know it is important to take medicine -- possibly for the rest of his or her life -- to keep from getting sick.

When complications develop, know how to treat them and keep your child comfortable. For example:

  • Loss of appetite. Offer a variety of foods through the day, avoiding foods such as carbonated drinks that can create gas in the stomach and make your child feel bloated.
  • Diarrhea. Give your child plenty of fluids, including soups, fruit juice diluted with water, and an oral rehydration solution. Offer soft, moist foods such as mashed potations, squash, pumpkins, and carrots. Avoid fatty, sweet foods.
  • Cough and cold. Allow your child to rest. Offer plenty of water and other fluids. Clean clogged nasal passages by filling a large bowl or pot with very hot water and having your child breathe in the vapors. 

For help dealing emotionally with a child's HIV diagnosis, speak to a member of the clergy or mental health professional or contact an organization that offers support and services for children with HIV/AIDs and their families. Several that offer summer camps for kids with HIV and other services are:

One Heartland 

Camp Kindle 

Sunburst Projects 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on December 16, 2012
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