Pricing, Lack of Tools Hamper Child AIDS Treatment
August 16, 2006
Pediatric AIDS treatments are overpriced and difficult to obtain, and treating infected children generally lacks policymaker and organizational support, Doctors Without Borders (DWB) said in a report Tuesday at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto.
Most drug manufacturers are based in richer Western countries where there are fewer pediatric cases, while most of the 2.3 million children with HIV live in southern Africa, DWB said. Of 660,000 children needing treatment, just 5 percent receive it.
Available pediatric treatments contain about one-fifth the active ingredients of adult treatments but are far more costly. Doctors often must split adult pills, which were not made for that purpose, to create dosages for children. Pediatric drugs are difficult to store and administer and need refrigeration -- a serious challenge in hot, resource-poor countries.
"Prices of pediatric formulas are not justified," Fernando Pascual, a DWB pharmacist, told a news conference. "We want to do more," said Moses Masaquoi, a DWB doctor working in Malawi. "We know what we're doing is not enough, because our hands are tied."
Diagnostic tools for adults are often unreliable for accurately detecting infection in infants, DWB reported. Most pregnant women still do not have access to prenatal care, and nine of ten children newly infected acquire the virus through mother-to-child transmission. Of children who receive early treatment, 80 percent are still alive after two years, DWB studies found. Without treatment, half of those infected through mother-to-child HIV transmission die before age two.
DWB called on policymakers, the World Health Organization and UNICEF to issue clear guidance to drug manufacturers on producing pediatric AIDS treatments and for nations to take the topic more seriously.
08.15.2006; Cameron French
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.