Early Symptoms of HIV in Children

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an infectious, contagious virus that can be passed from an infected mother to her newborn infant during childbirth. Over two million children under the age of 15 throughout the world are infected by HIV. If you are pregnant and have HIV, talk with your doctor about the early symptoms of HIV in children.

Poor Growth and Development

Infants and children who are infected with HIV can experience significant growth and development problems as symptoms of this disease. Your child may have difficulty gaining weight or meeting normal growth checkpoints for height. You can notice that it takes longer for your HIV-positive child to learn how to crawl or walk when compared to healthy children that are her age.

Oral Yeast Infection

Recurrent oral or digestive yeast infections can be an early symptom of HIV in children. HIV targets immune cells, making it harder for your child's body to fight off infection. The virus can also affect the balance of naturally-occurring bacteria in your child's body. These effects of HIV can increase your child's risk of developing frequent yeast infections as a symptom of this disease. Yeast infections of the mouth or digestive tract can lead to the appearance of white, fuzzy, painful skin sores along the throat, tongue or gums. Additional yeast infection symptoms can include a sore throat, oral itching or swelling, coughing or diarrhea.

Abdominal Swelling

Certain children with HIV can develop significant abdominal swelling as an early symptom of this disease. Abdominal swelling is often the result of liver or spleen inflammation caused by the virus. A swollen abdomen can be tender to the touch and may make it difficult for your HIV-positive child to move about normally.

Recurrent Ear, Sinus or Lung Infections

HIV damages your child's developing immune system and prevents her body from being able to effectively fight off common infections. As a result, your child can experience recurrent ear, sinus or lung infections as an early symptom of HIV. These infections can occur in conjunction with fever, body aches, headache, stomach upset or excessive fatigue.

Skin Rash

Your child can develop a severe skin rash -- called dermatitis -- as an early symptom of HIV. Dermatitis is characterized by the appearance of red, dry and itchy patches of skin across the body. A skin rash can be uncomfortable and you may notice that your child frequently scratches at the affected skin region.

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