Approximately 700,000 children become newly infected with HIV annually, mainly through mother-to-child transmission (MTCT), making paediatric HIV a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The substantial interest in preventing MTCT (PMTCT) has generated information on rates of transmission and associated factors, but there is a lack of information on disease progression and mortality in vertically-infected children, especially from resource-poor settings. Peer-review journals with titles or abstracts containing reference to the reviews themes were selected using widely available search engines. We review relevant literature on mortality in children born to HIV infected mothers; morbidity and mortality associated with paediatric HIV infections; eligibility to and efficacy of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Child mortality is independently associated with maternal HIV status and maternal death, with paediatric infection resulting in ∼4 fold increase in mortality by age 2 years. Morbidities seen in infected children were similar to those seen in uninfected children, although the rates and recurrences of illness were greater. There is some evidence that progression to AIDS may be more rapid in resource poor settings, although data on this are very limited. PMTCT and paediatric ART have been shown to be highly successful in resource-limited settings, but are not universally applied. Further efforts to increase coverage of both PMTCT and paediatric ART could substantially reduce the numbers of children becoming infected and improve survival of those infected. Additionally, improvements in health infrastructures could improve care provision, not only through improved detection and monitoring but also through treatment of co-morbidities and nutritional support
Paediatric HIV, vertically-acquired, sub-Saharan Africa, disease progression, mortality, treatment
Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Child Health UCL, 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH, UK.