Treatment Failures and Excess Mortality Among HIV-Exposed, Uninfected Children With Pneumonia

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–exposed, uninfected (HIV-EU) children are at increased risk of infectious illnesses and mortality compared with children of HIV-negative mothers (HIV-unexposed). However, treatment outcomes for lower respiratory tract infections among HIV-EU children remain poorly defined.


We conducted a hospital-based, prospective cohort study of N = 238 children aged 1–23 months with pneumonia, defined by the World Health Organization. Children were recruited within 6 hours of presentation to a tertiary hospital in Botswana. The primary outcome—treatment failure at 48 hours—was assessed by an investigator blinded to HIV exposure status.


Median age was 6.0 months; 55% were male. One hundred fifty-three (64%) children were HIV-unexposed, 64 (27%) were HIV-EU, and 20 (8%) were HIV-infected; the HIV exposure status of 1 child could not be established. Treatment failure at 48 hours occurred in 79 (33%) children, including in 36 (24%) HIV-unexposed, 30 (47%) HIV-EU, and 12 (60%) HIV-infected children. In multivariable analyses, HIV-EU children were more likely to fail treatment at 48 hours (risk ratio [RR]: 1.83, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.27–2.64, P = .001) and had higher in-hospital mortality (RR: 4.31, 95% CI: 1.44–12.87, P = .01) than HIV-unexposed children. Differences in outcomes by HIV exposure status were observed only among children under 6 months of age. HIV-EU children more frequently received treatment with a third-generation cephalosporin, but this did not reduce the risk of treatment failure in this group.


HIV-EU children with pneumonia have higher rates of treatment failure and in-hospital mortality than HIV-unexposed children during the first 6 months of life. Treatment with a third-generation cephalosporins did not improve outcomes among HIV-EU children.

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