Comprehensive Pediatric Human Immunodeficiency Virus Care and Treatment in Constanta, Romania: Implementation of a Program of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy in a Resource-Poor Setting

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Background:Relatively few human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected children worldwide have access to care and treatment. The Romanian-American Children’s Center, a collaborative project of a U.S. health care institution and the Romanian government, has established a comprehensive program of highly active antiretroviral therapy for children in Constanta, Romania.Objectives:To describe the design and outcomes of a program of pediatric HIV/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) care and treatment in a resource-poor setting.Setting:Outpatient center providing comprehensive primary and HIV/AIDS specialty care and treatment to all known HIV-infected children living in Constanta County, Romania.Outcomes:As of August 2003, a total of 452 children were receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy. Therapy has been well-tolerated, with ~90% of children continuing to receive treatment after a median duration of follow-up of 67 weeks. Normal weight and height growth velocities have been observed among treated children. Marked decreases have been observed in rates of hospitalization and mortality. The mean change in CD4+ lymphocyte count for 173 children who have both a baseline count and at least 1 follow-up count is +284 cells/μL (P < 0.0001).Conclusions:Highly active antiretroviral therapy can be administered safely and effectively to children in a resource-poor setting, with outcomes comparable with those observed in U.S. pediatric antiretroviral clinical trials.

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