Affordable Treatment For Poor Children With HIV

An estimated 1.7 million children globally live with HIV

HIV Children
FILE - A five-year-old HIV-positive boy stands in the courtyard of the preschool he attends in Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya, Nov. 29, 2010. VOA

GENEVA – Affordable treatment will soon be available for children living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries thanks to an agreement between the global health agency UNITAID and the Clinton Health Access Initiative, or CHAI.

Pediatric treatment has been available in wealthy countries but out of reach for children in poor countries. A new agreement with two generic drug makers, Viatris and Macleods, will significantly lower the price.

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UNITAID and CHAI plan to roll out the first anti-retroviral treatments specifically designed for children next year in six African countries — Benin, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

An estimated 1.7 million children globally live with HIV, but only half receive any treatment, and 100,000 die every year.

HIV Children
FILE – A mother watches her HIV-positive child in the intensive care unit of the Bangui pediatric complex, while in the foreground, an HIV-positive child sleeps, in the Central African Republic, Dec. 4, 2018. VOA

UNITAID spokesman Herve Verhoosel said HIV is not suppressed for many of those children. That is due, in part, to the lack of availability of effective drugs that are properly adapted for them.

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“Many children who are living with HIV have a poor response to treatment because they take anti-retroviral medication that is not correctly dosed or bitter to taste. … Now with this new drug … it will be much, much easier and much, much less expensive,” he said, adding that even the youngest children will like the strawberry-flavored pills.

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Under the new pricing agreement, the cost for the yearly pediatric HIV treatment will go from more than $480 per child to under $120 per child. (VOA)