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A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Minerva Pediatrica 2004 August;56(4):411-8

language: Italian

Neurological and psychological evolution of adolescents with vertical transmission HIV infection

Piazza F., Maccabruni A., Rossi G., Chiappedi M., Caselli D., Bonforte F., Lanzi G.


Aim. Personal experience in a sample group of children with AIDS vertically transmitted followed from birth to adolescence (out of 56 cases with documented HIV infection, 9 who have reached the age of 13 have been studied) is presented.
Methods. The evaluation protocol includes: hematochemical, serological and virological tests to monitor the infectious status, as well as annual EEG, CT/MRI scan to detect anatomical alteration of CNS, neurological examination, intelligence test (WISC-R), interview and projective test (Blacky Pictures) to investigate emotional situation.
Results. As to the status of the disease, according to the CDC classification, 2 patients are asymptomatic, 2 paucisymptomatic, 2 with moderate symptoms, 2 severely symptomatic; 1 patient died due to progressive encephalopathy. Of the 2 severely symptomatic cases, 1 presents cortical atrophy and the other basal nuclei calcifications. No one of them has clinical signs of encephalopathy. All patients receive anti-retroviral medications. From tests and interviews emotional problem-emerge, future is seen as menacing and insidious, and defensive mechanisms are fragile and inconstant; denial can lead to a refusal of the pharmacological therapy; families themselves often refuse medical staff the consent to communicate the diagnosis fearing that this could induce unbearable anguish.
Conclusion. It seems important that patients are informed, considering their capacity to make front to the communication, even if one must bear in mind that understanding and accepting the diagnosis may be a long and painful process requiring a long time.

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