By Linda Peckel
Infants living with HIV whose viral loads are suppressed by antiretroviral therapy (ART) are more likely to partially recover developmental milestones but with persistent deficits, compared to uninfected infants, according to an African study published in BMC Pediatrics.
Sarah Benki-Nugent, Assistant Professor of Global Health at UW, led the study through the UW Kenya Research and Training Center with collaborators at UW and University of Minnesota.
These findings support previous research showing that early intervention is the most important factor in retaining cognitive and motor development for infants living with HIV. “Altogether, these studies suggest that it is critical to provide additional strategies, such as parenting support for early childhood development, alongside HIV diagnosis and treatment, to help children reach their full potential,” Dr. Benki-Nugent said.
In our study, infants who had robust responses to ART had better outcomes. We have observed similar findings in other studies. It is critical for community providers and leaders to understand the potential benefits of early HIV treatment for preserving brain development, and the importance of prompt HIV testing during infancy.