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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To review recent insights into the factors affecting HIV disease progression in children living with HIV, contrasting outcomes: following early ART initiation with those in natural, antiretroviral therapy (ART)-naive infection; in children versus adults; and in female individuals versus male individuals. RECENT FINDINGS: Early life immune polarization and several factors associated with mother-to-child transmission of HIV result in an ineffective HIV-specific CD8+ T-cell response and rapid disease progression in most children living with HIV. However, the same factors result in low immune activation and antiviral efficacy mediated mainly through natural killer cell responses in children and are central features of posttreatment control. By contrast, rapid activation of the immune system and generation of a broad HIV-specific CD8+ T-cell response in adults, especially in the context of 'protective' HLA class I molecules, are associated with superior disease outcomes in ART-naive infection but not with posttreatment control. The higher levels of immune activation in female individuals versus male individuals from intrauterine life onwards increase HIV infection susceptibility in females in utero and may favour ART-naive disease outcomes rather than posttreatment control. SUMMARY: Early-life immunity and factors associated with mother-to-child transmission typically result in rapid HIV disease progression in ART-naive infection but favour posttreatment control in children following early ART initiation.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Opin HIV AIDS

Publication Date





229 - 236


Adult, Humans, Female, Male, HIV Infections, Sex Characteristics, Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical, Anti-Retroviral Agents, Disease Progression