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Children

HIV/AIDS is a disease of the young. Recent data estimates that there are over 800,000 children worldwide with the virus, and every year there are hundreds of thousands of babies born with HIV. In the United States there are nearly 1000 new cases of AIDS in children reported annually. Over 90% of HIV positive children were infected through a process called vertical transmission, where an infected mother transmits the virus to her baby. This transmission of HIV from mother to child may occur while the fetus is still in the uterus; during birth when the baby comes in direct contact with the infected blood of the mother; or during breastfeeding when the virus is passed via breast milk.

With the growing trend in HIV infection among the young, research has turned its efforts toward developing safe and effective treatment programs for pregnant women with HIV, and infants and children. For example, without treatment, about 25%-30% of babies born to HIV-infected women will be infected. The risk drops to about 2% if a woman is treated during pregnancy for HIV. Additionally, since there is risk of transmission during vaginal delivery when the infant is exposed to the mothers blood, a cesarean delivery (surgical delivery of the infant) is usually recommended for HIV positive women.

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