Global HIV/AIDS Response Must Include Children

“One of the most under-reported tragedies of the HIV epidemic is that children continue to be left behind in the HIV response,” Eliane Drakopoulos of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) writes in a Devex opinion piece. “Weak health systems, lack of medical personnel trained in treating children, stock-outs of critical medications in countries with high HIV prevalence rates, lack of money for transportation, fear of stigma — these are all a big part of the problem,” she states, adding, “Another serious problem is the lack of good treatment options for children,” as “most pharmaceutical companies — including those that manufacture generic formulas — do not see a return on investment in pediatric HIV medicine.”

“At the [EGPAF] we are working to ensure that children are a part of the global effort to eliminate HIV/AIDS. But the international community can and must do more to both prevent children from acquiring HIV, and effectively treat and care for those who do acquire the virus,” Drakopoulos continues. “Governments must prioritize early HIV diagnosis, treatment, and care for children, and also tackle the key barriers to effective diagnosis and treatment of HIV in children,” she states, adding, “The pharmaceutical industry must develop less expensive fixed-dose combination drugs suitable for infants and children living in resource-poor settings and make necessary pediatric medicines locally available at the lowest possible cost” (10/23).