Growth of Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Children Receiving Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy

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Background:Weight and height growth of HIV-infected children tends to lag behind that of uninfected children of similar age. Previous reports of the effect of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on the growth of HIV-infected children have been contradictory.Methods:Age- and gender-adjusted height and weight z scores were studied for 192 HIV-infected children, 4 months to 17 years of age, who had been treated with antiretroviral therapy for at least 16 weeks. These children, in clinically and immunologically stable condition, were enrolled into one of 4 HAART regimens and evaluated for 96 weeks.Results:At baseline, these HIV-infected children were significantly shorter than uninfected children (mean z score, −0.57; 95% confidence interval, −0.73 to −0.41; P < 0.001). Children with greater viral loads at baseline were significantly shorter and lighter than children with smaller viral loads (both P < 0.001). Administration of HAART led to an increase in mean weight z scores to normal values (mean z score increase, from −0.16 to >0) by week 48 and an increase in mean height z scores of 72% toward normal values (mean z score increase, from −0.57 to −0.16) by week 96. Younger children gained height more rapidly (P < 0.001), and children with greater baseline viral loads gained weight more rapidly (P < 0.001). There was no evidence of differential height or weight changes in 48 weeks between children with different degrees of virologic control.Conclusions:HAART improved the average weight gain of HIV-infected children from subnormal to normal after 1 year and improved average height growth to nearly normal after 2 years.

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