MSF Calls for Specialized HIV/AIDS Treatment for Children, Urges WHO, UNICEF to Address Problem
November 3, 2004
Children with HIV/AIDS in developing countries are "needlessly" dying because of "ignorance" and a lack of suitable pediatric medications, the international medical aid organization Medecins Sans Frontieres said in a statement on Tuesday, the AP/Yahoo! News reports (Klapper, AP/Yahoo! News, 11/2). The announcement came one day before the opening of a three-day conference MSF is hosting with UNICEF and the World Health Organization that will address improving treatment for the approximately 2.5 million children worldwide living with HIV/AIDS (Nebehay, Reuters, 11/2). According to Siobhan Crowley, an AIDS expert with WHO, the conference also will "propose more aggressive steps" to increase the availability and access to effective and affordable drugs for children, according to the AP/Yahoo! News (AP/Yahoo! News, 11/2). In the statement, MSF called upon the pharmaceutical industry to develop easy-to-use, fixed-dose combination antiretroviral drugs modified for use by infants and children (Reuters, 11/2). Although necessary medications are increasingly available to HIV-positive adults in developing countries, most drugs are not produced in dosages and combinations appropriate for children, according to MSF. Therefore, most doctors must create appropriate dosages for children by "opening the pills themselves, then measuring the contents and resealing the capsules," the AP/Yahoo! News reports. "I do what most doctors are doing," Dr. Koen Frederix, a pediatrician practicing in Lyotho, Malawi, said, adding, "I try to show caregivers, such as grandparents, how to crush and break adult tablets, hoping that the children will get the doses they need. It is easy to overdose or underdose children" (AP/Yahoo! News, 11/2). When specialized treatments, such as syrups, are available for children, they typically cost $1,300 annually -- more than six times the $200 annual cost to treat adults, the Financial Times reports (Williams, Financial Times, 11/3).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.