i want to
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that causes a number of different health problems including AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). The HIV virus is passed from person to person in certain ways:
An HIV-infected person may have the virus inside of his or her body but appear to be well. This is because it takes many months and even years for the HIV virus to cause enough harm to the body to result in illness or disease.
The best way for doctors to find out if a person has HIV is to look for HIV antibodies. The body starts making antibodies as soon as the person is infected with HIV. The HIV virus attacks many cells in the body, especially the cells of the immune system. The virus damages the T-4 cells that help the immune system fight off disease. When the immune system is badly damaged, people with HIV can be infected by many different and unusual germs (bacteria, viruses, fungus and parasites). These unusual infections are what we call AIDS.
The HIV virus is not very stable outside the body. It can only live inside the body. Therefore, it can only be spread through INTIMATE CONTACT between an infected person and an uninfected person. HIV is passed on to another person only when blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk, that contain HIV, gets into that person's body.
Examples of intimate contact and ways of spreading the virus are:
The HIV virus is not spread through "casual contact." Some ways HIV/AIDS is not spread are:
Studies show that so far no other family members of HIV- infected children have gotten the virus from casual contact. There is also no proof that young children with HIV infection are a risk to their classmates at school (Picture 1).
HIV- infected children may develop a number of signs and symptoms as a result of their HIV infection. However, HIV-infected children may have many years when they have no major health problems and they look, grow and act as other children. After a while the HIV virus may cause certain symptoms. However, some of these signs may also occur in children who have no medical problems at all. Or they may occur in children with other immune system problems.
Some of the more common signs in HIV-infected children include:
You probably have a lot of questions about caring for a child with HIV infection. The doctor, nurse, dietitian and social worker are here to help you and to answer your questions (Picture 2). This program is called the Family AIDS Clinic and Education Services (FACES). You and your child are also part of the team. It is very important that the HIV-infected child takes an active part in his or her own care. It’s important to involve the child in making decisions about his or her care. HIV- infected children should also be strongly encouraged to lead a normal life.
In general, parents should care for the HIV- infected child in the same way they care for any child. However, you will need to do a few special things to protect yourself and others from the HIV virus.
The HIV-infected child has more trouble fighting off infections than other children. So you need to keep the child away from people who are ill with the flu, colds, measles, chickenpox and other common diseases.
Good care of mouth and teeth is very important for the HIV- infected child because infections can begin in the mouth.
Children with HIV infection may not grow as fast as other children. They may be smaller and thinner than others their age. This may be due to lack of appetite, diarrhea or infections that make it hard to chew or swallow.
Your child’s doctor will need to check your HIV-infected child for symptoms before giving any immunizations (vaccine shots).
Having an HIV- infected child can stir many different feelings inside you. Sometimes this is very confusing and worrisome. Many parents find talking with other parents about common experiences and sharing ideas helps to make them feel better. There are support groups for families of HIV- infected persons. Ask your nurse or social worker about the support groups in your area.
If you would like more information about caring for your HIV- infected child, you may call the CDC National AIDS Hotline at 1-800-342-2437. They are open 24 hours a day. If you have any questions, please call the Nationwide Children's Hospital HIV Program at (614) 722-6060.
*Developed as a cooperative effort by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, The American Dietetic Association, and the Food Market Institute.
HIV Infection/AIDS (PDF)
HH-I-116 11/89, Revised 11/07 Copyright 1989-2007, Nationwide Children’s Hospital