Management of diarrhea in HIV-affected infants and children

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Globally, diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children less than 5 years of age. HIV-infected and HIV-exposed uninfected (HEU) children are at high risk of dying from diarrhea and may be more susceptible to the highest risk enteric pathogens. This increased risk associated with HIV infection and HIV exposure is likely multifactorial. Factors such as immunosuppression, proximity to individuals more likely to be shedding pathogens, and exposure to antimicrobial prophylaxis may alter the risk profile in these children. Current international guidelines do not differentiate management strategies on the basis of whether children are infected or affected by HIV, despite likely differences in etiologies and consequences. Reducing diarrhea mortality in high HIV prevalence settings will require strengthening of HIV testing and treatment programs; improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene interventions targeted at HIV-affected households; and reconsideration of the use of empiric antimicrobial treatment of pathogens known to infect HIV-infected and HEU children disproportionately.

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