Miller Children’s offers comprehensive evaluation and condition management for infants, children and expectant mothers who are at risk, or infected with HIV/AIDS. This comprehensive care includes HIV testing and counseling, clinical drug and vaccine trials, education, psychological care and medical management of the condition.

Anti-retroviral Treatment & Research

Many children who are at risk, HIV-positive or have AIDS are immunocompromised making them more susceptible to illness. The Bickerstaff Center promotes preventative treatment to ensure that these patients can lead as normal of a life as possible. The Bickerstaff Center care team ensures vaccinations are up to date, patients have good dental health and that healthy lifestyle choices are made, such as eating well and exercising.

Neurological symptoms can often be one of the first signs that HIV infection has progressed to AIDS in children. Children at risk, or infected with HIV/AIDS often have impaired brain growth, decreasing their chances of reaching developmental milestones and honing their fine motor skills. Treating HIV-infected children with anti-retroviral therapy can halt and possibly even reverse neurological damage caused by the virus.

There are many different types of anti-retroviral drugs available to treat patients. The Bickerstaff care team discusses the correct individualized treatment plan and selects the right combination of different anti-retroviral drugs in order to suppress the viral disease and infection. Through IMPAACT, children also can be enrolled in clinical trials to discover and track HIV treatment in children. Patients have extensive follow-up care and are monitored on a monthly basis.

Prenatal Program

The prenatal HIV program ensures that pregnant moms affected with HIV, minimizes and prevents HIV mother-to-child transmission. The women are put on an anti-retroviral therapy and can be enrolled in clinical trials through IMPAACT. The Bickerstaff Center follows up with these moms periodically to assess their needs on a case by case basis. Promoting a healthy lifestyle is also encouraged.

As of June 2012, there hasn’t been a single perinatal HIV transmissions among mothers followed in the HIV program. The Bickerstaff Center’s HIV-infected pregnant mothers have been delivering healthy, HIV-negative babies since 1995.

What is HIV?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV is different from the other viruses because it weakens the immune system. This virus finds and destroys a certain white blood cell that fights disease. HIV infection in children and adolescents differs from adults because it is often difficult to diagnose, as symptoms are nonspecific. Young patients experience recurrent infections and abnormalities that affect motor development and growth. The Bickerstaff team at Miller Children’s provides on-going care to the child and the family through medical studies, health education and comprehensive case management.

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When You Visit

Your initial visit with a Bickerstaff Pediatric Family Center’s pediatric infectious disease physician will begin with a family conference of your child’s current health, medical history and family history because some infectious diseases can be hereditary. A clinic visit generally lasts up to an hour and your child’s infectious disease physician will need to know of any past operations or major illnesses that your child has had.

Come Prepared

  • Bring a list of any current medications
  • Inform the health care team of drug allergies
  • Write a list of questions that you may have for the doctor
  • Bring your insurance or referral information

The doctor will then perform a complete physical examination. There may be a need to order certain tests or suggest a procedure to improve your child’s condition. Questions during this time are always encouraged, because it is very important that you fully understand your child’s situation and are comfortable with the treatment plan prescribed.