Need for active cardiovascular screening in HIV-infected children under antiretroviral therapy in Africa
Unacceptably high incidence of pediatric HIV despite worldwide increased access to antiretroviral therapy. The routine management of these children includes provision of antiretroviral therapy, and periodic assessment of its results and complications. However, no systematic assessment of the nutritional status, lipid profile or screening for cardiovascular disease is done. Our study aimed at describing the occurrence of cardiovascular abnormalities in HIV-infected children under antiretroviral therapy, and at determining the vital outcomes 5 years after. A prospective observational study was implemented at a dedicated HIV center in Maputo City, where we gathered detailed socio-demographic data and performed full cardiovascular evaluation, including transthoracic cardiac ultrasound. A total of 47 children were examined (24 male) of which 10 had abnormal cardiac ultrasound: impaired systolic function (5 children); three had congenital heart defects; one had severe rheumatic aortic regurgitation and one had tuberculous pericarditis. Heart failure was present in five children. The study also uncovered the presence of malnutrition (36 patients; 80% had BMI below 18.5 kg/m2) and anemia in a considerable proportion of children. On 5 year follow up there was one death due to malária; three new cases of left ventricular dysfunction occurred among children who had normal ultrasound on recruitment. Our results support systematic cardiovascular risk profiling and disease screening in HIV-infected children on antiretroviral therapy, using cardiac ultrasound wherever possible.