Number of HIV-Positive Children Receiving HIV/AIDS Treatment Extremely Low, Report Says
The number of HIV-positive children worldwide who are receiving antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV/AIDS is extremely low, according to a report released Thursday by the Global Movement for Children, BBC News reports. The report, titled "Saving Lives: Children's Right to HIV and AIDS Treatment," is based on data compiled by Oxfam International, PLAN International, Save the Children, UNICEF, World Vision International and the Latin America and Caribbean Network for Children (BBC News, 5/25). Although HIV-positive children represent a disproportionate number of those needing immediate treatment, only one in 20 children in the developing world receives antiretroviral drugs, according to the report. Few pediatric formulations of antiretroviral drugs are available, making child-appropriate HIV/AIDS treatment "practically nonexistent," the report says. "Without treatment, most children with HIV[/AIDS] will die before their fifth birthday," Dean Hirch, chair of GMC, said, adding, "These children are missing out on treatment because they are missing from the global AIDS agenda." According to the report, 90% of HIV-positive children live in sub-Saharan Africa.
The report issues several recommendations for addressing HIV/AIDS treatment in children, including creating child-specific treatment targets; improving drug delivery systems; increasing research and development for pediatric HIV/AIDS treatment; and expanding prevention programs that aim to decrease mother-to-child HIV transmission. "Unless the world takes urgent account of the specific impact [HIV/]AIDS has on children, we will fail to meet the [U.N.] Millennium Development Goal - to halt and begin to reverse the spread of [HIV/AIDS] by 2015," Thomas Miller, PLAN International CEO, said (GMC release, 5/26).