With advances in antiretroviral therapy, most HIV-infected children now survive into adulthood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009 there were roughly 77,000 HIV-infected youth between 13 and 24 years of age in the U.S., and youths accounted for a quarter of all new HIV infections in 2010. With the dramatic improvement in HIV care over the past three decades, an infected adolescent and his caregivers are now faced with managing a chronic illness. A new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides recommendations for successful transitions from pediatric care to an adult-oriented health care provider. The policy statement, “Transitioning HIV-Infected Youth Into Adult Health Care,” is published in the July 2013 issue of Pediatrics (published online June 24). The AAP recommends health care providers develop a formal process for transitioning youth to adult health care. For a successful transition to adult-oriented health care, youths must acquire skills to be responsible for the management of their own health care. Discussions about the transition should start with patients in early adolescence, with the actual transition to adult health care occurring between ages 18 and 25. The AAP recommends health care providers establish a system to identify and track youth as they move through the transition process, and each patient should have an individualized transition plan. Communication among all health care providers is essential. The patient’s health care coverage should be evaluated regularly to ensure access to medications is not interrupted during the transition.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.