The term “AIDS dysmorphic syndrome” or “HIV embryopathy” has been used by some researchers to describe specific facial malformations (i.e., craniofacial dysmorphism), an unusually small head, and growth deficiency in some infants infected with HIV.* Such craniofacial abnormalities have included a prominent, boxlike forehead, large, wide eyes; a flattened nasal bridge, and an unusually pronounced philtrum, which is the vertical groove in the center of the upper lip.
However, many investigators have since questioned the significance of these observations. Such researchers indicate that there is lack of evidence for characteristic craniofacial malformations in infants who acquired HIV infection from their mother before, during, or shortly after birth (i.e., perinatally).
*HIV is the abbreviation for the human immunodeficiency virus, a retrovirus that infects certain white blood cells called helper T cells (CD4+ cells). HIV infection leads to progressive deterioration of the body’s immune system and causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
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