Research articles

Communication characteristics of young children with HIV in South Africa as reported by some physicians

Published in: African Journal of AIDS Research
Volume 13, issue 4, 2014 , pages: 371–382
DOI: 10.2989/16085906.2014.985236
Author(s): Michelle HattamCon Amore School, South Africa, Brenda LouwDepartment of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, United States, Salome GeertsemaCommunication Pathology, South Africa

Abstract

HIV has been shown to have significant effects on the development of a child. Currently, there is limited South African research regarding HIV and specific characteristics of communication development, and the treatment thereof, in the child infected with HIV. The objective of the research was to describe the communication characteristics of a group of children between the ages of 0 and 5 years infected with HIV at a hospital in Gauteng, South Africa. Clinic records of 203 children infected with HIV between the ages of 0 and 5 years were reviewed using a pre-designed checklist within the outreach clinic of a large regional hospital. A questionnaire was completed by four medical practitioners working with this population within the outreach clinic. A total of 91.62% of the infected children were diagnosed as being either in Stage III or IV of the disease (according to the WHO classification system of 2005), with all infants presenting with a CD4 count of ≤60. Most (75.37% of the total sample) were receiving Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) at the time the data were collected. According to their medical, social, communication and general development, almost all the children qualified for Early Communication Intervention (ECI) but were not recorded as being referred for such services. A large proportion of the target population presented with opportunistic infections and/or HIV associated conditions. The results highlight the developmental characteristics of children living with HIV, and identify the need for medical doctors and allied health professionals to be provided with relevant literature or training regarding the communication development of children infected with HIV. This will facilitate appropriate referrals for ECI services.

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