Medical utilization by immunodeficient, hemophiliac, and HIV positive children during summer camp: Evidence for a safe camper experience

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BackgroundContinuation of normal activities is vital to psychosocial development of children with serious illnesses. The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not it was safe for HIV-positive children and children with other immunodeficiencies to attend camp.ProcedureThe study population consisted of HIV (+) children, HIV negative siblings, and other immunodeficient campers attending Barretstown Gang (BG) Camp between 1998 and 2002. Their visit frequency to the on-site medical facility was compared within the study population and between 2,323 contemporaneous campers with cancer.ResultsOver half of the HIV (+) children were on active therapy. Greater than 97% of staff (49/51) made at least one visit compared with 64% (149/233) of campers (P < 0.04). HIV (−) siblings had almost the same need for medical attention (total visits) as children with immunodeficiencies (P = 0.34). Most visits [88%] among all diagnostic groups except hemophilia were non-disease related (328 vs. 47). Apart from URIs, there were few other infections and no fevers in the HIV(+) or immunodeficiency group, nor were there significant bleeds in the hemophiliacs. Most visits were for routine camp-type ailments.ConclusionsOur findings suggest that it is safe for HIV (+) and immunodeficient children to attend a properly staffed camp. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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