Near Elimination of Vertical HIV Transmission in United States Could Be ‘Bad News’ in Other Countries, Editorial Says
Although reports that mother-to-child HIV transmission has been "nearly wiped out" in the United States and Western Europe are "thrill[ing]," it could be "bad news for the rest of the world" because "with few children with AIDS in rich nations, [drug] companies will have little incentive to improve on current pediatric AIDS products, and governments will continue to make sick children an afterthought," a New York Times editorial says. There are few pediatric forms of antiretroviral drugs, and those that do exist are at least six times the cost of generic drugs for adults, according to the Times. In addition, there are no "cheap generic forms" of pediatric formulations or "easy-to-take" combination pills for children, the Times says. Therefore, health care providers administer smaller doses of adult antiretroviral therapy to many HIV-positive children in developing countries, a practice that can lead to "dangerous" overdoses or underdoses, according to the Times. Children living with HIV/AIDS "need the easiest, most child-friendly medical regime possible," the editorial says. The "major buyers" of HIV/AIDS treatments should guarantee drug companies a market if they come up with "better or cheaper" pediatric antiretroviral drugs, the Times says. In addition, training for HIV/AIDS health care workers in Africa must include pediatric treatments, and countries need to "integrate" children into their programs to fight the disease, according to the Times. "Children should not be left to die simply because they cannot pay," the editorial concludes (New York Times, 2/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.