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Children with HIV more likely to utilize health services than infected adults

Although more American adults than children are infected with the HIV virus, children with the disease use more HIV-related health care services, a Johns Hopkins Children's Center researcher reports.

"Because infants and toddlers are more likely to visit their pediatrician on a regular basis, and because physicians believe that administering highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) to babies and infants early on helps establish and maintain levels of viral suppression, we weren't really surprised by these results," said the study's lead author, George Siberry, M.D., a pediatrician at the Children's Center.

"However, our study believed to be one of the first to examine health care utilization patterns of HIV-infected children since the widespread use of HAART also suggest that the demand for care for HIV-positive children means we need to look carefully at how we are delivering it and what more we can do to improve access and services," he added.

In their report, scheduled for presentation Nov. 3 at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2003 National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, investigators at Johns Hopkins and five other institutions from the HIV Research Network report that HIV-positive children particularly those under 2 years of age make a high number of outpatient visits and are frequently hospitalized. Furthermore, 90 percent of all HIV-infected children receive antiretroviral (ART) medications.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by the year 2 001 there were more than 170,000 adults and adolescents and approximately 4,000 children in the United States infected with the HIV virus (these statistics may not include data from all 50 states).

"An understanding of how real HIV patients access the health care system, and what services they do or do not utilize, provides policymakers, medical providers and HIV program managers with the knowledge to make important decisions
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Contact: Jessica Collins
jcolli31@jhmi.edu
410-516-4570
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
3-Nov-2003


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