Conflicting Reports on How People Do Long Term When Born with HIV

Two new studies have been reported over the past 2 weeks about how patients born with HIV are doing as young adults.

The first is from St. Mary’s Hospital in London; Young Adults Who Were Infected at Birth: the Complexities of Lifelong HIV are Increasingly Apparent. It presents health data on 58 perinatally infected young people. Two thirds of the people in the study were taking ARV medication. The report indicates many medical and psychological complications, and implies the complications were in the one third of people who were not adhering to treatment.

Adherence to medication is challenging for this group and a problem which drives many of the health complications described above.

Individuals who had good self-reported adherence in childhood generally maintained the same behaviour as young adults and continued to have good treatment response. Similarly, those with poor adherence in childhood most commonly continued to have difficulties, with sub-optimal clinical outcomes.

The researchers suggest that as adherence patterns appear to be established in childhood, it is essential to support adherence when children begin therapy in order to promote long-term adherence and survival.

The second study is by Dr. Russell Van Dyke at Tulane in New Orleans; Kids Born with HIV Growing Up Well. This report also indicates that 2/3 of participants had undetectable viral loads. The other 1/3 have complications although the doctor indicates

“their disease can be treated as chronic, more akin to diabetes than cancer. Van Dyke expects many of the patients in his study to have a normal or near normal life span.”

“These kids are doing very well,” Van Dyke says. “They’re going to school and doing all of the things that kids should do. Hopefully, they will be living 50 or 60 years or more, so what’s going to happen 40 years from now is the real concern.”