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General Considerations

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that 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 defects in cell-mediated and humoral immunity. In the absence of treatment, HIV infection causes progressive immune incompetence, leading to 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.

Table 41–1.abHIV related symptoms in children.



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