Current Environment:

Boston Childrens Hospital AIDS Program | Overview

For children, teens, and parents with HIV infection or AIDS, the diagnosis can feel overwhelming. At the Boston Children's Hospital AIDS Program (CHAP), we are here to help you, from testing through treatment. We offer comprehensive care for infants, children, and adolescents with, or at risk for, HIV infection or AIDS.

Our services

Our services include counseling, testing, diagnosis, treatment, education, mental health services, case management, and referrals. During the past two decades, our multidisciplinary team has helped CHAP become an international leader in HIV and AIDS care and clinical research. Research pioneered by our team and others, as well as the success of anti-viral drugs, has transformed the disease from a death sentence to a manageable condition. Today, few children in the United States die of AIDS, and the transmission rate from mother to child is 1 percent.

The Children's Hospital AIDS Program (CHAP) at Boston Children's Hospital provides the following services:

  • HIV counseling and testing: At the initial visit, after informed consent is obtained, we conduct confidential HIV counseling and antibody testing. Our senior staff report HIV test results to the child's parent or legal guardian and, with the appropriate consent, to the patient's primary and/or referring physician. We provide follow-up testing and services as necessary.

  • Clinical care and case management: With the patient's primary provider, we deliver ongoing clinical care, provide case management, and make referrals to a large geographical service area. We provide medical, nursing, and social services to monitor and treat patients, educate parents about home care, and provide the family with all of the appropriate support.

  • Outreach and Massachusetts Community AIDS Resource Enhancement (MassCARE) Program: We have established partnerships with community health centers in Massachusetts neighborhoods where the rates of AIDS- and HIV-infected women are high. The goals of MassCARE are to introduce highly specialized services into the community, increase access to HIV clinical trials for women and children, and reduce the number of trips patients need to make to receive specialized services.

  • Education: We meet with parents, foster parents, and adolescents to discuss topics related to AIDS, such as possible symptoms and risky behaviors, such as IV drug use and unprotected sex.

  • Mental health services: We provide a multicultural team of social workers to address the psychological needs of children and families. We offer crisis intervention, psychosocial assessments, and ongoing counseling to help patients and families deal with coping, disclosure, depression, behavioral problems, addiction, and bereavement.

  • Clinical drug and vaccine trials: Boston Children's is one of 24 pediatric institutions nationwide conducting research of investigational drugs and vaccines for both primary HIV therapy, and prevention and treatment of infections. CHAP is also involved in several therapeutic and perinatal prevention vaccine studies.

  • Adolescent HIV services: We provide adolescent HIV services both at Boston Children's and in the community. We see HIV-infected and/or high-risk adolescents for counseling, testing, treatment, and clinical trials. In addition, the Boston HAPPENS Program provides outreach to high risk, HIV positive, homeless and/or street youth by professional and trained peer leaders.

Our experience

As New England's largest clinic of this type, we treat approximately 130 children, teens, and their families each year. A major goal of our program is to strengthen community care by consulting with your child's pediatrician or primary health care provider:

  • HIV counseling and testing
  • clinical care and case management
  • outreach and MassCARE Program assistance
  • education
  • mental health services
  • clinical drug and vaccine trials
  • adolescent HIV services

At CHAP, our researchers are studying once-a-day and combination therapies with the goal of simplifying treatment. We're also working to determine the impact of combining strong anti-viral therapy with medications to treat depression or a co-infection, such as tuberculosis, to make sure drugs continue to be effective when combined. Additionally, we're studying how teen peer groups can encourage adolescents to follow their medication regimen. Internationally, our research focuses on preventing transmission, designing pediatric anti-viral treatments, vaccine testing, and preventing tuberculosis in children with HIV.

Free confidential testing and counseling

Project Protection at Boston Children's at Martha Eliot Health Center provides pre- and post-HIV testing and counseling. These services are free and confidential and are offered by walk-in or appointment. We also provide HIV, STI, and hepatitis prevention education.