Access to HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment Still Limited for Children in Africa
Children in Africa still are not receiving the HIV/AIDS prevention services or antiretroviral drugs they need, even though the drugs are affordable and available and drug access among adults has increased over the past few years, the International Herald Tribune reports. Although less expensive generic antiretrovirals have led to increased access to the drugs in Africa, and some new pediatric HIV/AIDS clinics have opened in parts of the continent, most experts say that only a small percentage of HIV-positive children living in the continent receive treatment, according to the Tribune. Health systems on the continent are inefficient and burdened with other diseases, and diagnosing HIV in young children also can be difficult, the Tribune reports. In Cameroon, only about 400 of the 15,000 to 40,000 children believed to be HIV-positive in 2005 were receiving the treatment they needed, despite the drugs being available at no cost from the government, according to the Tribune. In addition, just a fraction of HIV-positive pregnant women get the two drugs they need to avoid mother-to-child HIV transmission, the Tribune reports. In some countries, 2% to 3% of children who need drugs are receiving them. "The cost of drugs is an issue, but not the only or even the most important issue for children," Kevin De Cock, director of the World Health Organization's HIV/AIDS Department, said, adding that "the fact that children aren't getting treated is a sign of the frailty of health systems" (Rosenthal, International Herald Tribune, 11/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.