[Geneva/New York, 1 December 2011] Less than one-quarter (23%) of children with HIV/AIDS who need treatment are getting it, according to a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the occasion of World AIDS Day (1 December 2011). Although treatment coverage for adults has been steadily climbing and has now reached approximately half of those in need, coverage for children is lagging far behind, highlighted the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a non-profit research and development organization that has recently launched a new paediatric HIV drug development programme.
'Children with HIV/AIDS are falling through the cracks', said Dr Bernard Pcoul, Executive Director of the DNDi. '250,000 children died of HIV-related complications in 2010 that's nearly 700 each day. This is simply unacceptable.'
There are several reasons for this situation including lack of access for pregnant women to antenatal care, HIV testing, and antiretrovirals (ARVs) to prevent mother-to-child transmission and treat expecting mothers, as well as difficulties diagnosing HIV in infants. But one of the most important, and overlooked, is the lack of suitable formulations of ARVs adapted for children, particularly babies and toddlers. The reason for this neglect lies, ironically, with the success of the virtual elimination of HIV among newborns in wealthy countries.
'There's little profit to be made from developing treatments for the millions of children with HIV/AIDS, 90% of whom are the poorest of the poor in sub-Saharan Africa, and the lack of market incentive means pharmaceutical companies do not develop ARVs adapted to their needs', Dr Pcoul continued. 'Without treatment, half of the children born with HIV die before their second birthday.'
WHO recommends immediate ART for all HIV-positive children less than two years old, but the safety and correct dosing have not been established in very young children for the maj
|Contact: Violaine Dllenbach|
Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative