To describe survival patterns, use of health services and related costs for Australian children with perinatally acquired human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
A retrospective cross-sectional survey was made of 20 children with HIV infection (91% of those diagnosed) and 13 children with maternal antibodies who subsequently seroreverted, treated at 10 medical centres. Details of disease progression and use of health services were obtained from hospital medical records. Monthly costs for three phases of infection were estimated by linking service usage rates with estimates of the unit cost of each service. The average lifetime cost was estimated by combining monthly costs and phase duration estimates from the literature.
Patterns of disease progression were similar to those reported internationally, with a median survival of 8 years. Use of health services increased with severity of illness. Mean monthly costs were $120 per month (1992 Australian dollars) for children with maternal antibodies who subsequently seroreverted, $320 per month for children with HIV infection but no acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-defining illness, and $1830 per month for children with AIDS. The present value of total lifetime cost for a child with HIV infection was $48174, 46% of which was for treatment of AIDS.
The mean lifetime cost for a perinatally infected child was just over half that for a man with HIV in Australia. Health service usage and costs were lower for Australian than American children with HIV.