Challenges in the Provision of ICU Services to HIV Infected Children in Resource Poor Settings: A South African Case Study
Journal of Medical Ethics 2005 April; 31(4): 226-230
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has placed increasing demands on limited paediatric intensive care services in developing countries. The decision to admit HIV infected children with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) into the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) has to be made on the best available evidence of outcome and the ethical principles guiding appropriate use of scarce resources. The difficulty in confirming the diagnosis of HIV infection and PCP in infancy, issues around HIV counselling, and the variance in the outcome of HIV infected children with PCP admitted to the PICU in African studies compound this process. Pragmatic decision making will require evaluation of at least three ethical questions: are there clinical and moral reasons for admitting HIV positive children with PCP to the PICU, should more resources be committed to caring for HIV children who require the PICU, and how can we morally choose candidates for the PICU? Those working in the PICU in HIV endemic regions need to make difficult personal decisions on effective triage of admissions of HIV infected children with PCP based on individual case presentation, availability of resources, and applicable ethical principles.
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