Child Health USA 2006
Photographs of children's faces

Health Status > Children

Pediatric AIDS

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which damages or kills the cells that are responsible for fighting infection. An AIDS diagnosis is received when an HIV infection becomes advanced and meets certain criteria determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By 2004, 9,443 cases of AIDS in children younger than 13 had ever been reported in the United States. Pediatric AIDS represents approximately one percent of all cases ever reported.

In 2004, an estimated 48 new AIDS cases were diagnosed among children, all of which were attributed to transmission through the mother before or during birth (perinatal transmission). The number of new cases of pediatric AIDS has declined substantially since 1992, when 945 cases were reported. A major factor in this decline is the increasing use of antiretroviral therapy before, during, and after pregnancy to reduce perinatal transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In 1994, the U.S. Public Health Service recommended this treatment for all HIV-positive pregnant women, and in 1995 routine HIV counseling and voluntary testing for all pregnant women was recommended. It is expected that the perinatal transmission rate will continue to decline with increased use of treatments and obstetric procedures.

Racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented among pediatric AIDS cases. Non-Hispanic Blacks compose approximately 15 percent of the child population but represent almost 60 percent of all pediatric AIDS cases.


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Child Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Child Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.