This World AIDS Day SickKids celebrates the success of HIV prevention initiatives
Today, World AIDS Day, SickKids celebrates the advances in treatment and care of children, youth and adults with HIV, particularly the prevention of vertical transmission from pregnant women to their babies.
The prevalence of HIV transmission from mother to baby is extremely low in Canada due largely to the success of prevention initiatives including perinatal testing, access to combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) for mothers and babies, and access to infant formula.
The HIV Comprehensive Care Program at SickKids opened 28 years ago in 1988, and since then the team has cared for over 1,200 babies born to HIV-positive women.
Despite the low rates of vertical transmission, every year SickKids enrolls 45 to 60 infants born to HIV-positive mothers. Although these babies are uninfected, they require ongoing clinical follow-up for the first five and a half years of life to ensure safety of the medications and to monitor their overall health.
The multidisciplinary team also cares for over 90 HIV-positive children and youth; 80 per cent are on treatment and, of those, 75 per cent have full suppression of the virus. Advances in HIV treatment and care mean that HIV-positive children, youth and adults can lead full and healthy lives. In fact, several former patients have returned to SickKids as new parents, and their babies are all HIV negative.
HIV is a manageable chronic illness but worldwide research continues in search of a cure. SickKids is part of a national, multi-centre team funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR) and the International AIDS Society (IAS), which has successfully enrolled over 200 participants from across the country, representing most of the children and youth living with HIV in Canada today.