Age-appropriate formulations of antiretroviral drugs urgently need to be developed and delivered to save the lives of babies and toddlers living with HIV/AIDS
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) welcomed the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)’s new ‘PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-Free Generation,’ released by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in advance of World AIDS Day, and its focus on ensuring ambitious scale-up of treatment and diagnosis for people with HIV/AIDS, including children living with HIV/AIDS.
Watch “Children living with HIV/AIDS: the reality of a neglected disease”, a short film on the daily life of a mother with an infected child in South Africa
The focus of the new PEPFAR Blueprint is on rapid scale-up of high-impact interventions to increase access to treatment and reduce new infections broadly, and is not specifically focused on the needs of children with HIV/AIDS. However, it lays out four ‘Road Maps’ for creating an AIDS-free generation, including a ‘Road Map for Saving Lives,’ which includes the action step of increasing coverage of HIV treatment, and this section details the need to “Build capacity to ensure HIV diagnostics and ART for children are scaled-up, including EID [early infant diagnosis] and age-appropriate pediatric formulations of ARVs, particularly for infants and young children at highest risk of dying without treatment.”
“We must not lose sight of the urgent treatment needs of children with HIV/AIDS, especially the youngest and most vulnerable who are at great risk of dying,” said Rachel Cohen, Regional Executive Director of DNDi North America. “The inclusion in the ‘PEPFAR Blueprint’ of specific recommendations to scale up treatment with child-adapted antiretrovirals is a welcome development, and we look forward to working with PEPFAR and other partners to help make this a reality.”
Due to a lack of ARV formulations suitable for the youngest children, DNDi is working with Cipla and other partners to develop an improved first-line therapy for infants and toddlers with HIV/AIDS.
An estimated 3.4 million children (<15 years old) are living with HIV/AIDS, but only 28% of those in urgent need of treatment are receiving it, compared with 54% of adults. Without treatment, half of all HIV-positive children will die before the age of two, and 80% will die before they turn five.
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is a not-for-profit research and development organization working to deliver new treatments for neglected diseases, in particular human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, filaria, and paediatric HIV. DNDi was established in 2003 by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation from Brazil, the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the Ministry of Health of Malaysia, and the Pasteur Institute of France. The WHO Special Programme for Tropical Disease Research (TDR) serves as a permanent observer. Since 2003, DNDi has delivered six new treatments for malaria, sleeping sickness, visceral leishmaniasis, and Chagas disease.
Oliver Yun, Communications Manager, DNDi North America;