Hesperian Health Guides

Prevent illness and treat illnesses quickly

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HealthWiki > Helping Children Live with HIV > Chapter 10: How to keep children healthy > Prevent illness and treat illnesses quickly


All children get ill sometimes. They may have a slight cold, a fever, or some diarrhea. If children are generally healthy and well fed, they often get better on their own, with rest and healthy foods and drinks.

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However, if a child is a newborn, or is not strong and well fed, or if she has HIV, she will not be able to fight off illness as well. Some illnesses, such as pneumonia, malaria, and tuberculosis, are serious in any young child, and must be treated as quickly as possible.

Young children with HIV need care sooner when they are ill. This means you should treat even mild illnesses quickly.

See Chapter 12 for more information about these signs and what to do.

When a child has HIV, some signs of illness can become life-threatening very fast. Seek care as soon as possible for: These common problems for children with HIV may also need care from a health worker:


Every parent should know their own HIV status and that of any children in the household. If you do not know your child’s HIV status, and the child is not growing well or is often ill, consider whether he might have HIV, especially if a close relative of the child has HIV (a mother, father, brother, or sister). If the child does have HIV, putting him on treatment will help him be ill less often.

Any sickly or poorly growing child should be tested for HIV — see Chapter 8.



This page was updated:27 Nov 2019