What is Paediatric HIV?
HIV causes approximately 300 child deaths every day.
Although about 873,000 children were on antiretroviral therapy in 2015, there were 150,000 new infections in the same year.
There are currently 36.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. This figure includes 1.8 million children below 15 years of age, the overwhelming majority of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa. Infants acquire the virus before, during, or after birth, and without access to treatment half of them will die before their second birthday.
Two-thirds of all people living with HIV/AIDS are in Sub-Saharan Africa. 86% of all new infections in children occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.
About 90% of the infected infants acquired the HIV virus from their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, delivery, or through breast-feeding (mother-to-child transmission, MTCT). Without treatment one-third of infected children die in their first year of life, half by the age of two, and four-fifths by five years of age.
Infected infants develop the same symptoms as adults, but the disease progresses faster, and their growth and weight gain is below the normal rate. Severe wasting is common, and diarrhoea and upper respiratory tract infections cause increased morbidity and death. As the disease progresses, opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis are common.There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has dramatically reduced HIV mortality rates and leads to prolonged life expectancy.
Patient treatments needs
Current treatment options for HIV-positive children are insufficient, as little investment has been made to ensure the safety and efficacy of antiretrovirals in treating children, or to develop child-appropriate formulations. An improved first-line therapy for children under 3 years of age would ideally be safe, easy to administer, well-tolerated and palatable, heat-stable, readily dispersible, and dosed once daily or less. It must also carry minimal risk for developing resistance, be compatible with drugs against tuberculosis, and affordable. Access is also a problem: only 32% of children with HIV received ART treatment in 2014.