Objective.

To compare morbidity and mortality of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected and HIV-1-uninfected children and to identify predictors of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and death among HIV-1-infected children in the context of a developing country.

Design.

Prospective cohort study.

Setting.

Maternal and child health clinic of the Centre Hospitalier de Kigali, Rwanda.

Participants.

Two hundred eighteen children born to HIV-1-seropositive mothers and 218 born to seronegative mothers of the same age and parity were enrolled at birth.

Outcome Measures.

Deaths, clinical AIDS, nonspecific HIV-related manifestations, and use of health care services.

Results.

Fifty-four infected and 347 uninfected children were followed up for a median of 27 and 51 months, respectively. With the exception of chronic cough, the risk of occurrence of nonspecific HIV-related conditions was 3 to 13 times higher in infected than in uninfected children. The recurrence rate and severity of these findings were increased systematically in infected infants. Estimated cumulative risk of developing AIDS was 28% and 35% at 2 and 5 years of age, respectively. Estimated risk of death among infected children at 2 and 5 years of age was 45% and 62%, respectively, a rate 21 times higher than in uninfected children. Median survival time after estimated infection was 12.4 months. Early infection, early onset of HIV-related conditions, failure to thrive, and generalized lymphadenopathy were associated with subsequent risk of death and/or AIDS, whereas lymphoid interstitial pneumonitis was predictive of a milder disease.

Conclusions.

In Africa, HIV-1-infected children develop disease manifestations early in life. Specific clinical findings are predictive of HIV-1 disease, AIDS stage, and death. Bimodal expression of HIV-1 pediatric disease is encountered in Africa, as in industrialized countries, but prognosis is poorer. human immunodeficiency virus infection, children, vertical transmission, natural history, Africa.

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