[Ip-health] DNDi: Children with HIV/AIDS Falling Through the Cracks of Treatment Scale-Up Efforts

Rachel M. Cohen rachel.cohen72 at gmail.com
Thu Dec 1 03:33:50 PST 2011

For Immediate Release


Children with HIV/AIDS Falling Through the Cracks of Treatment Scale-Up


[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
Pécoul, 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 Pécoul 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 majority of ARVs approved for adults. In
addition, key existing paediatric ARV formulations taste bad, require
impractical multiple liquid preparations and refrigeration, and have
undesirable interactions with tuberculosis (TB) drugs.


DNDi’s new paediatric HIV programme aims to develop an improved first-line
therapy for children under three years of age. Ideally, this ARV combination
therapy needs to be easy to administer and better tolerated by children than
current drugs, as well as heat stable and easily dispersible (dissolvable in
water or breast milk). It must also carry minimal risk for developing
resistance and require minimum weight adjustments. Finally, any new
formulations must be compatible with TB drugs.


‘Given the current funding crisis, we are deeply concerned that children
with HIV/AIDS – who are already invisible and largely voiceless – will fall
even further down on the agenda’, said Dr Marc Lallemant, Head of DNDi’s
Paediatric HIV Programme. ‘And while everything possible needs to be done to
achieve the long-term goal of “eliminating“ new infections among infants,
including through scale-up of prevention of mother-to-child transmission
programmes, a more serious response is urgently needed for HIV-positive
children today.’ 




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), leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, malaria,
and, with the recent expansion of its portfolio, specific helminth
infections, 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 Special Programme for Tropical Disease Research
(TDR) serves as a permanent observer. Since 2003, DNDi has delivered five
new treatments for neglected patients with malaria, sleeping sickness, and
visceral leishmaniasis.



Media contact:

Oliver Yun, Communications Manager

DNDi North America (New York)

Mobile: +1.646.266.5216

Tel: +1.646.616.8681

Email: oyun at dndi.org


Violaine Dallenbach, Press and Communications Manager

DNDi (Geneva)

Mobile: +41.79.424.1474

Tel: +41.22.906.92 47
Email: vdallenbach at dndi.org


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