Over 2,000 Children Living With HIV/Aids In Karamoja

Over 2,000 Children Living With HIV/Aids In Karamoja

Baylor Uganda an organization that fights against HIV/Aids among children in Uganda reveals that about 2,000 children aged 1 to 15 years in Karamoja sub region are living with HIV/Aids.

Dr. Calvin Epidu the project coordinator Baylor Uganda Karamoja region says out of 2,000 children found with HIV/Aids, 699 have been put on Anti-Retroviral treatment in the seven  Karamoja districts of Moroto, Nakapiripirit, Kaabong, Napak, Abim, Kotido and Amudat between 2012 and 2016.

He added that 7,500 adults who were found with the virus were put on treatment but only 4,900 are very active on treatment while others have dropped off or got lost. Dr. Epidu attributes this trend to the high level of stigma and discrimination among the people living with HIV.

He also cites long distances to the treatment centers especially in Kaabong district as another reason for drop off.The report puts the HIV prevalence rate in Karamoja at 5.3%, up from 3.5 % in 2006. The national HIV/Aids prevalence rate is at 7.3%.

An estimated 3.2 million children age 15 and under were living with AIDS at the end of 2013, according to the World Health Organization.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). The virus damages or destroys the cells of the immune system, leaving them unable to fight infections and certain cancers.

Causes of HIV in Children

Most HIV infections in children are passed from mother to child during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or breastfeeding. However, thanks to preventive treatment regimens, the incidence of mother-to-child HIV transmission is decreasing. Since the mid-1990s, HIV testing and preventive drug regimens have resulted in a 90% decline in the number of children infected with HIV in the U.S. Most cases of childhood HIV/AIDS are concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa.

Other causes of child HIV include:

Blood transfusions. Blood transfusions using infected blood or injections with unsterilized needles can lead to HIV infection and AIDS in children. In the U.S. and other wealthier countries this problem has been virtually eliminated, but in poor countries this still occurs.

Illicit drug use. In central and Eastern Europe, injected drug use continues to spread HIV among young people living on the streets. In one study in the Ukraine, high-risk behaviors, including sharing needles, were prevalent among children as young as age10.

Sexual transmission. Although sexual transmission is not a main cause of HIV/AIDS among children, it does occur in countries where children become sexually active at an early age. Children may also become infected through sexual abuse or rape.

Symptoms of HIV/AIDS in Children

Many babies and children living with HIV are known or suspected to have the infection because their mothers are known to be infected. However, sometimes infection is not suspected until a child develops symptoms. Symptoms of HIV infection vary by age and individual child, but following are some of the more common symptoms:

·       Failure to thrive, which is the failure to gain weight or grow according to standardized growth charts used by pediatricians.

·       Failure to reach developmental milestones during the expected time frame.

·       Brain or nervous system problems, characterized by seizures, difficulty with walking, or poor performance in school.

·       Frequent childhood illnesses such as ear infections, colds, upset stomach, and diarrhea.

As HIV infection becomes more advanced, children start to develop opportunistic infections. These are infections that rarely affect healthy people but can be deadly for people whose immune systems aren't working properly. Common opportunistic infections related to HIV include:

·   Pneumocystis pneumonia -- a fungal infection of the lungs

·   Serious infection due to cytomegalovirus (CMV)

·   A condition of lung scarring called lymphocytic interstitial pneumonitis (LIP)

·   Oral thrush or severe diaper rash due to Candida, a yeast infection

Treatments for Child HIV and AIDS

Due to improved prevention and treatment, AIDS-related deaths among children around the world are declining.

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.

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