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Pediatric Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, Poverty, and National Priorities

Margaret C. Heagarty, MD
Am J Dis Child. 1991;145(5):527-528. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1991.02160050053012.
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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), as found in children, represents a microcosm of the problems and failures of this nation's health care system for the poor.

EPIDEMIOLOGY  When Oleske et al1 and Rubenstein et al2 first described the disease in children, it was not evident that AIDS was to become a disease found predominantly in poor children of minority status. But in the years since those first reports appeared, epidemiologic studies have demonstrated that AIDS in children is largely acquired through perinatal transmission from HIV-infected mothers who are or have been involved in intravenous drug use or who have had intercourse with someone involved in the drug culture. About 15% of children with AIDS are hemophiliacs or others who were infected by contaminated blood products before the advent of the national universal HIV blood screening program. Presumably, the number of transfusion-related cases will


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