Childhood HIV Risks Becoming Neglected Disease As Fewer Children Born With HIV, Experts Warn

“The success in reducing the number of children born with HIV is in danger of leaving children who already have the disease with poor access to treatment, experts in HIV and AIDS have warned,” BMJ reports. “Denis Broun, executive director of UNITAID, a not-for-profit organization that purchases drugs for the treatment of HIV and AIDS and other diseases, has welcomed news that the number of new infections in children is falling,” the journal writes, adding, “But he said that because fewer children are born with the virus, drug companies would no longer have an incentive to manufacture treatments and that childhood HIV might become a neglected disease.”

“A report by UNAIDS, … released a week before World AIDS Day on 1 December, said that the annual number of new HIV infections among children worldwide had fallen from 560,000 in 2003 to 330,000 in 2011,” BMJ notes. “However, it said that only 28 percent of children who needed antiretrovirals got them, whereas the proportion in adults is 50 percent,” the journal adds. “Kate Iorpenda, senior adviser on HIV and children at the International HIV and AIDS Alliance, said that, in the worldwide push to stop transmission from mothers to their babies — ‘the mantra of the AIDS-free generation’ — children already infected with HIV were in danger of being forgotten,” BMJ writes, noting, “She said that pediatric HIV drugs were not a profitable market for drug companies and that there was a lack of drugs that were ‘appropriate, affordable, and palatable'” (Gulland, 11/30).

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