03 February 2010

High HIV rate in African teens

New research has found that nearly 50% of youths aged 10 to 18 who were admitted to two public hospitals in Zimbabwe were infected with HIV.


In a study that highlights the growing crisis of birth-acquired HIV in teens and young adults, new research has found that nearly 50 percent of youths aged 10 to 18 who were admitted to two public hospitals in Zimbabwe were infected with HIV, the virus that causes Aids. 

The HIV-positive adolescents were more likely to have stunted growth, delayed puberty and to have a mother who was infected with HIV or who had died of Aids, the study found. 

How the study was done

The researchers said that 69% of HIV-positive adolescents were admitted to the hospital because of infections, such as tuberculosis or pneumonia, compared with 19% of youths who did not have HIV. Also, 22% of the HIV-infected youths and 7% of the HIV-negative youths died while hospitalised. The study is published online in the February issue of PLoS Medicine.

Few studies have examined the prevalence of birth-acquired HIV in older children and adolescents, Glenda Gray, of the perinatal HIV unit at the University of Witwatersrand, wrote in an accompanying commentary. Gray said this might be because it was believed that children infected with HIV at birth were unlikely to survive beyond age five. - (HealthDay News, February 2010)


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HIV/Aids expert

Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria before working for an HIV/AIDS NPO in Soweto for many years. She was named one of the Mail & Guardian's Top 200 Young South Africans in 2012.

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