Clinton Foundation Pledges $10M To Treat 10,000 Children Living With HIV/AIDS in 10 Countries
Former President Clinton on Monday announced that the Clinton Foundation is pledging $10 million to provide treatment to approximately 10,000 children living with HIV/AIDS in 10 countries and expand the foundation's efforts in rural areas, the AP/Yahoo! News reports. Speaking at a news conference in New York City, Clinton said the pediatric treatment initiative would almost double the number of HIV-positive children receiving antiretroviral therapy in developing countries other than Brazil and Thailand, according to the AP/Yahoo! News (Matthews, AP/Yahoo! News, 4/11). Nearly half of the 15,000 to 25,000 children on treatment worldwide live in Brazil and Thailand (Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative Q & A, 4/11). "These children need hope, and we know what must be done. The global community has the means to save many lives, and we must meet that responsibility as quickly as we can," Clinton said (Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative release, 4/11).
Indian pharmaceutical company Cipla has agreed to sell the foundation its pediatric antiretroviral syrups and pills at half their normal price because it is placing large orders, Ira Magaziner, chair of the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative, said. The foundation plans to spend about $2 million on pediatric antiretroviral drugs and will provide $3 million to clinics in 10 countries where local doctors can be trained to treat children, according to Magaziner (McNeil, New York Times, 4/12). Pediatric medicines already have been ordered for China, the Dominican Republic, Lesotho, Rwanda and Tanzania, and treatment is expected to begin as early as May in China (Reuters, 4/12). The foundation, with the help of UNICEF and other organizations, aims to expand the initiative to several other countries by the end of this year and provide treatment for 60,000 children by the end of 2006 (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/12). One in six AIDS-related deaths worldwide are among children, but fewer than one in 20 HIV-positive people now receiving antiretroviral treatment are children, according to the Wall Street Journal. Some of the reasons for the lack of treatment in this population include a shortage of pediatric AIDS specialists, few children's formulations of antiretroviral medications and high prices -- sometimes five times the cost of discounted adult formulations -- for such formulations, the Journal reports (Chase, Wall Street Journal, 4/12).
Treatment in Rural Areas
Clinton on Monday also announced that his foundation will "mount a major push" to increase access to treatment and care for people living with HIV/AIDS in rural areas of Africa and Asia, according to Toronto's Globe and Mail (Nolen, Globe and Mail, 4/12). The Clinton Foundation will work with the not-for-profit group Partners in Health to begin HIV/AIDS treatment programs this year in Rwanda, Mozambique and Tanzania, the Boston Globe reports. Paul Farmer, a Harvard University professor and a PIH co-founder, last week launched the Rwandan clinic, which is based on a model developed by the organization in rural Haiti (Donnelly, Boston Globe, 4/12). The foundation will provide $5 million for the efforts in rural areas (New York Times, 4/12). The program aims to widen access to antiretroviral medication from cities to rural areas, where 75% of HIV-positive people live in Africa and Asia, the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 4/12). "It's going to be efforts like this one that are going to make a difference even though they may appear modest," Farmer said (AP/Yahoo! News, 4/11). Clinton said, "Expanding AIDS treatment is an international priority, and as we pursue it, we must leave no one behind. Access to care for children and people living in rural communities has been severely limited" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/12).
U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis said, "It always enrages me that children are inevitably on the bottom rung of the ladder in the international development priorities. ... And I think it's worth pointing out that we've had antiretroviral treatment internationally for close to 10 years. And today at this press conference is the breakthrough for the treatment of children" (AP/Yahoo! News, 4/11). Peter McDermott, head of HIV/AIDS programs at UNICEF, said, "We find this announcement to be groundbreaking." He added that the initiative represents "the first real opportunity to scale up ARV treatment for children and reduce significantly the deaths of children by HIV/AIDS" (Boston Globe, 4/12). UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said, "These initiatives represent critical efforts to accelerate the delivery of antiretroviral treatment to populations who have limited access to these life-saving medicines. It is another demonstration of how, with determined leadership and commitment, we can begin to bridge the gap between the 700,000 people in low- and middle-income countries who are currently receiving AIDS treatment and the six million who need it" (UNAIDS/WHO release, 4/11). Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation President and CEO Kate Carr said, "Today's announcement by the Clinton Foundation of increased availability of low-cost drugs for children will make a meaningful difference and truly exemplifies the power of public-private partnerships in combating HIV/AIDS" (EGPAF release, 4/11).
A kaisernetwork.org HealthCast of the announcement is available online.