About 1,600 U.S. newborns a year are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome, according to a new estimate in Journal of the American Medical Association.
Theoretically, this number could be reduced to 400 per year if all the HIV-infected women who give birth each year were to receive treatment during pregnancy with zidovudine or AZT, which has been shown to prevent transmission of HIV from mother to fetus. But many women will not be reached and treated in time.Since 1978, when HIV began to seep into the U.S. population, about 15,000 children have been born with the viral infection, say researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of these, about 5,330 have developed AIDS and 2,680 have died from the disease. So the backlog of still-invisible children's AIDS cases is nearly 10,000.
- Richard A. Knox