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There are treatments to slow down the rate at which HIV weakens the immune system, but cur rently available antiretroviral drugs cannot cure HIV infection or AIDS, and all these drugs have severe side effects.

Some of the nucleoside reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitors may deplete red or white blood cells, especially when taken in the later stages of the disease; some may also cause an inflammation of the pancreas and painful nerve damage. There have been reports of other severe reactions, including death, to some of the anti-retroviral nucleoside drugs when used alone or in combination.

The most common side effects associated with protease inhibitors include nausea, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. In addition, protease inhibitors can interact with other drugs and cause serious side effects.

A major factor in reducing the number of deaths from AIDS in this country has been highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). HAART is a treatment regimen that combines reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors to treat AIDS patients.

While HAART is not a cure for AIDS, it has greatly improved the health of many children with AIDS, reducing the amount of virus circulating in the blood to nearly undetectable levels. However, researchers have shown that HAART cannot eradicate HIV entirely from the body.

A number of drugs are available to help treat opportunistic infections to which children with HIV are especially prone. These drugs include fos-carnet and ganciclovir to treat cytomegalovirus eye infections, fluconazole to treat yeast and other fungal infections, and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX) or pentamidine to treat Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP).

Children can receive pCp preventive therapy when their T-cell counts drop to levels considered below normal for their age group, and they must take drugs for the rest of their lives to prevent an occurrence of the pneumonia.

air bags Since they were first placed in cars to serve as protective devices during accidents, 116 children have been killed by the force of deploying air bags, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. An air bag explodes out of the dashboard at rates of up to 200 miles per hour—faster than the blink of an eye—and can injure or kill a small child.

Because they were designed to protect adults, the force can be too strong for small children and can cause head and neck injuries in young riders. still, the number of small children killed by air bags has fallen sharply in the past five years, suggesting that parents are getting the message that children are safest when riding in the backseat. There were only six child deaths caused by air bags in 2000, compared to 25 in 1996. In the same period, the number of cars with air bags rose from 22 million to more than 80 million.

The government began allowing switches to deactivate air bags in 1995 and recommends the passenger-side air bag be turned off if a child under age 13 is riding in the front seat. By September 1, 2003, all vehicles were required to have advanced air bags that deploy with less force or not at all when children are in the front seat.

Before riding in the front seat, a child should be

• at least 110-120 pounds

Al-Anon/Alateen Al-Anon is a nonprofit organization that helps families and friends of alcoholics recover from the effects of living with the problem drinking of a relative or friend. similarly, Alateen is a recovery program for young people, usually teenagers, whose lives have been affected by someone else's drinking. The groups are sponsored by Al-Anon members. Alateen helps young people share experience, strength, and hope with each other, discuss their problems, learn effective coping strategies, and help each other understand the principles of the Al-Anon program.

The program of recovery is adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous and is based upon the Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, and Twelve Concepts of service. The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend.

Al-Anon meetings are held in 115 countries; there are more than 24,000 Al-Anon and 2,300 Alateen groups worldwide.

see also Appendix I.

albinism A rare inherited condition present at birth in all races, that is characterized by the partial or total lack of the pigment melanin that gives color to skin, eyes, and hair. Children with albinism often have visual problems, are prone to skin inflammation, suffer severe sunburn, and tend to develop skin cancer.

The most common type of albinism affects hair, skin, and eyes; in the most severe form, hair and skin are snowy white throughout life. Less severely affected children may be born with white skin and hair that darkens slightly with age. Numerous freckles may develop on sun-exposed parts of the body. Whether mild or severe, the child's eyes cannot tolerate bright lights and often have abnormal flickering movements or nearsightedness. More rare types of albinism affect only skin, hair, or the eyes.

Less than 100,000 children in the United States and Europe are affected, although the prevalence is much higher in some parts of the world (about 20 per 100,000 in southern Nigeria, for instance).

The most serious complication of the disease is the lack of melanin, which protects the skin against the harmful radiation in sunlight. Because the skin cannot tan, it ages prematurely and is prone to skin cancers.

albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin) A drug used to open the airways in children with asthma or chronic bronchitis. It can be administered by mouth, injection, or inhalation. side effects may include dizziness, tremor, nervousness, anxiety, and fast heart rate.

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Alcohol No More

Alcohol No More

Do you love a drink from time to time? A lot of us do, often when socializing with acquaintances and loved ones. Drinking may be beneficial or harmful, depending upon your age and health status, and, naturally, how much you drink.

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