OBJECTIVE. We sought to determine the impact of highly active antiretroviral therapy on the incidence and prevalence of opportunistic infections in HIV-infected children.
METHODS. Children born from 1986 to 1998 were monitored until 2004 in the Perinatal AIDS Collaborative Transmission Study, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We determined the pre–highly active antiretroviral therapy and post–highly active antiretroviral therapy (before and after January 1, 1997, respectively) incidence rates of opportunistic infections among HIV-infected children and characterized the temporal decreases in percentages of CD4+ cells and the mortality rates among patients with and those without incident opportunistic infections.
RESULTS. The overall opportunistic infection incidence declined from 14.4 to 1.1 cases per 100 patient-years; statistically significant reductions were seen in the incidence of the most common opportunistic infections, including Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (5.8 vs 0.3 cases per 100 patient-years), recurrent bacterial infections (4.7 vs 0.2 cases per 100 patient-years), extraocular cytomegalovirus infection (1.4 vs 0.1 cases per 100 patient-years), and disseminated nontuberculous mycobacterial infection (1.3 vs 0.2 cases per 100 patient-years). Kaplan-Meier analysis of time from birth to the first opportunistic infection illustrated more-rapid acquisition of opportunistic infections by HIV-infected children born in the pre–highly active antiretroviral therapy era than by those born later. In the first 3 years of life, there was a faster decline in the percentage of CD4+ cells among children with opportunistic infections. The mortality rate was significantly higher among children with opportunistic infections.
CONCLUSIONS. Reduction in the incidence of opportunistic infections and prolongation of the time to the first opportunistic infection were noted during the post–highly active antiretroviral therapy era. Children who experienced opportunistic infections had higher mortality rates than did those who did not. Younger children (<3 years) who experienced opportunistic infections had faster declines in percentages of CD4+ T cells.