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INTRODUCTION

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General Considerations

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that primarily infects cells of the immune system, including helper T lymphocytes (CD4 T lymphocytes), monocytes, and macrophages. The function and number of CD4 T lymphocytes and other affected cells are diminished by HIV infection, resulting in profound effects on both humoral and cell-mediated immunity. In the absence of treatment, HIV infection causes generalized immune incompetence, with progression from mild to severe symptoms/diagnoses, the latter of which are conditions that meet the definition of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and, eventually, death. The clinical diagnosis of AIDS is made when an HIV-infected individual develops any of the Stage 3 opportunistic illnesses or other conditions listed in Table 41–1. In adults and children older than 6 years, the criteria for a diagnosis of AIDS also include an absolute CD4 T-lymphocyte count of 200 cells/μL or less.

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Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 41–1.HIV related symptoms in children.
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Epidemiology

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