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HIV Med. 2009 Apr;10(4):253-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1293.2008.00676.x. Epub 2009 Jan 23.

Vertically acquired HIV diagnosed in adolescence and early adulthood in the United Kingdom and Ireland: findings from national surveillance.

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MRC Clinical Trials Unit, London, UK.



The aim of the study was to describe the characteristics of young people with vertically acquired HIV diagnosed aged > or =13 years.


A retrospective review of HIV diagnoses reported to well-established national paediatric and adult HIV surveillance systems in the United Kingdom/Ireland was conducted.


Forty-two young people with vertically acquired HIV diagnosed aged > or =13 years were identified; 23 (55%) were female, 40 (95%) were black African and 36 (86%) were born in sub-Saharan Africa. The median age at HIV diagnosis was 14 years (range, 13-20 years). Half of the patients presented with symptoms; the remainder were screened for HIV following diagnosis of a relative. The median CD4 count at diagnosis was 210 cells/microL (range, 0-689 cells/microL), 12 patients (29%) were diagnosed with AIDS at HIV diagnosis or subsequently, and 34 (81%) started combination antiretroviral therapy (ART), most (31 of 34) within a year of diagnosis.


A small number of young people with vertically acquired HIV survive childhood without ART and are diagnosed at age > or =13 years in the United Kingdom/Ireland. Half of the patients were asymptomatic, highlighting the importance of considering HIV testing for all offspring of HIV-infected women, regardless of age or symptoms. Increased awareness among clinicians and parents is required to reduce delayed presentation with advanced disease and to avoid onward transmission as these young people become sexually active.

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