The Microbiome in HIV-Infected Children

  • Robin J. GreenEmail author


Every human being has, within itself, a microbiome, which includes the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract, the genito-urinary tract and the skin. Whilst the most well-known species are bacteria, there is also a microbiome of fungi and viruses in all these regions. Humans and microbes have evolved together over eons of time, and thus, the human immune system and the microbiome demonstrate complex interactions. The presence and functioning of a microbiome is critical to the development of the human immune response, and, in turn, the immune system functions to maintain the microbiome. A number of factors are present in modern lifestyles that actively destroy the ‘normal’ microbiome and result in a process known as dysbiosis.

Over the last few years, the importance of the microbiome in HIV-infected children (and adults) has emerged. It is highly likely that the microbiome is unique in HIV-infected individuals and that specific clusters determine processes and profiles in various organ systems. In HIV-infected individuals dysbiosis has many forms, including reduced diversity or even increased diversity, but with replacement by pathogenic taxa.

It is now becoming clear that susceptibility to, progression of, and co-morbidities in HIV-infected patients (especially children) is also intimately linked to microbial diversity. The presence of a microbiome, and dysbiotic factors, are functional in many organ systems of children who are HIV-infected.


Microbiome Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) Dysbiosis Gastrointestinal tract (GIT) Respiratory tract Oral flora 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Paediatrics and Child HealthUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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