Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a new set of guidelines to help HIV-positive kids make the transition to adulthood.

Antiretroviral drugs for HIV are regarded by doctors as one of the most supreme achievements in the modern era of medicine. They are estimated to increase life expectancy in HIV-positive patients by 10 to 30 years. Patients who start treatment at a younger age have a greater life expectancy, which bodes well for children who have the virus.

For the 10,000-plus children under 13 who are diagnosed with HIV, most are now expected to survive into adulthood if they have access to treatment. This millennial generation of HIV patients and their healthcare providers will face challenges that have never been seen before.

Although rates are declining, perinatal - 'mother-to-child' - transmission is responsible for 90 percent of cases under the age 13. Unfortunately, some of these children's parents may succumb to the disease.

The AAP's recommendations advises pediatricians and parents on how to best prepare these kids to manage their own healthcare as adults. Planning ahead is the major theme, and the AAP says a juvenile patient should be introduced to the concept of transitioning to adult healthcare early in adolescence.

Although opinions differ regarding the appropriate age to first introduce the transition process, early adolescence is generally regarded as the most appropriate time. Many recommend beginning the discussion of transition by 12 years of age or at an appropriate time after the initial diagnosis, if it occurs at an older age.

Plans can be tailored to a child's mental maturity and should encourage independence. Doctors and families should keep up-to-date on 'readiness assessment surveys', which can "reveal areas of strength and weakness to which patient education can be focused to achieve self-management."

The complete guidelines can be found at AAP's journal here.

Source: American Academy Of Pediatrics. Transitioning HIV-Infected Youth Into Adult Health Care. Pediatrics. 2013.