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HIV babies need pneumonia protection.

HIV babies need pneumonia protection

All infants aged 1 year or less and infected with the AIDS-causing virus (HIV) should receive preventive antibiotic therapy to ward off Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, scientists urge in a new report. Currently, HIV-infected children do not receive such treatment until their blood levels of CD4 T-lymphocytes fall below 500 per cubic millimeter. Physicians base the practice on the knowledge that HIV-infected adults risk getting P. carinii pneumonia when these immune-system cells dwindle to that level.

However, even infants with DC4 levels above 500 can contract this lethal pneumonia, according to a study described in the Aug. 23 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE. William Borkowsky and his colleagues at the New York University Medical Center in New York City sutided 22 pneumonia-afflicted infants aged 3 to 11 months, finding that six of them had CD4 counts of more than 1,000 when physicians diagnosed the pneumonia.

The researchers report that 13 of the 22 infants (59 percent) died from the pneumonia -- a mortality rate that underscores the danger of P. carinii in infants, who have underdeveloped immune systems. In contrast, HIV-infected adults run a death risk of about 20 percent during their first P. carinii infection, the team notes. Preventive treatment with drugs such as trimethoprim sulfamethoxazole may help ease HIV-infected infants through the extra-risky first year of life, Borkowsky says.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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