What is Paediatric HIV?


1.7 million children living with HIV in 2018
160,000 children newly infected in 2018
About 300 child deaths every day
91% of cases are in sub-Saharan Africa

Although about 918,000 children were on antiretroviral therapy in 2018, there were 160,000 new infections in the same year.

There are currently 37.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. This figure includes 1.7 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.


World Map showing the number of children (
Children (<15 years) estimated to be living with HIV in 2016. Source: UNAIDS, http://www.unaids.org/

Two-thirds of all people living with HIV/AIDS are in Sub-Saharan Africa. 89% 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 54% of children with HIV received ART treatment in 2018.

DNDi aims to:

  • Help end the neglect of paediatric HIV by developing optimal child-friendly antiretroviral formulations for children living with HIV, with a special focus on infants and young children who are at the highest risk of dying without treatment.



Cover page paediatric HIV factsheet

Paediatric HIV factsheet

Disease brief

Cover page of the Paediatric HIV 2019 Update

Ending the Neglect of Paediatric HIV
Improving HIV treatment for children: an update

Visual patient story

Mother laying on a bed with her two young children

Innovating for kids with HIV
How Uganda is rolling out new technologies that can help transform the global paediatric HIV response


Caring for kids with HIV and TB
Hope for better treatments