Socio-demographic characteristics of HIV-exposed and HIV-infected Jamaican children.


BACKGROUND: In the face of the continuing pandemic of HIV/AIDS, the burden of the disease is now largest in the resource-poor developing world. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has listed the adult prevalence rate for the Caribbean as second only to Sub-Saharan Africa. OBJECTIVE: To document the socio-demographic characteristics of paediatric and perinatal HIV/AIDS in Kingston, Jamaica. METHODS: A cohort of HIV-infected pregnant women were identified at the leading maternity centres in Kingston and St Catherine and were enrolled in the Kingston Paediatric and Perinatal HIV/AIDS Programme. Infants born to mothers within the programme were prospectively enrolled. Infants and children identified after delivery, whether HIV-exposed or infected, were also enrolled (retrospective group). All were followed according to standardized protocols. RESULTS: We report on a total of 239 children, 78 (prospective group) and 161 (retrospective group). Among the retrospective group, 68% were classified as infected. For the prospective group, the patients were recruited within twenty-four hours of birth in 98.7% of cases, whereas in the retrospective group, the median age of recruitment was 2.6 years. The median age of the mother was 27 years and that of the father was 33 years. There were seven teenage mothers. Twenty-six per cent of the children were in institutional care. Family size ranged from one to nine children–the median was two children. For those parents where occupation was reported, the majority held semi-skilled or unskilled jobs. Patients attended their regional clinics. CONCLUSION: HIV/AIDS represents a significant human and financial burden on a developing country such as Jamaica and this underscores the need for urgent and sustained interventions to stem the epidemic.

The West Indian medical journal