HIV Drugs for Children Badly Needed in China
May 16, 2006
AIDS activists in China are calling on the nation to manufacture pediatric formulations of HIV drugs to administer to thousands of children with the disease. Because wealthy nations have had such success at preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission, pediatric HIV drugs are seen as not commercially viable and so are not widely produced.
In 2002, Chinese companies began manufacturing three generic antiretrovirals (ARVs), which cut the cost of caring for citizens with HIV/AIDS. However, China does not make pediatric doses.
The Hong Kong-based Chi Heng Foundation assists AIDS-affected children in China. Its founder, Chung To, travels often to Henan province, site of an HIV outbreak traced to unsanitary blood-buying in the 1990s. Chi Heng distributes ARVs to 86 of the 200 HIV-infected children for whom the Bill Clinton Foundation donated ARVs in 2005.
Activists disbelieve China's official count of 650,000 people living with HIV and 76,000 children orphaned by the epidemic. To believes at least 1 million children are affected, either by being infected themselves or by living with infected parents. To urged the government to do more for such children; at present, aid is extended only to those who have lost both parents.
"For children with parents living with HIV, they suffer a lot more because they have to take care of their parents; they are traumatized seeing the death of their parents ... they have to earn money, so they end up taking care of both dying parents and younger siblings," To said.
"Until last summer, there were no pediatric ARVs available in China. So if you were a child with HIV in China, it is very hard to get treatment today," To said. "I hope the Bill Clinton effort will make [China] more aware that there are children affected by HIV; they shouldn't just take care of the adults."
05.16.06; Tan Ee Lyn