The United States Food and Drug Administration has granted approval for a new form of antiretroviral treatment for HIV that can be mixed into children’s food. This will make it easier for children living with HIV to receive life-saving medicine.
This new formulation of HIV treatment will replace unpleasant and bad-tasting medicines that were once the only treatments available. This breakthrough in medicine will make it easier for children living with HIV to not only consistently take the medicine, but to stay healthy.
According to the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, only 24% of children living with HIV have access to antiretroviral medicines.
CIPLA is an Indian generic medicines manufacturer that produces the new oral pellets. An attractive quality about these oral pellets is that they are heat-stable. This is necessary in countries where temperatures frequently fluctuate or remain consistently high.
In these oral pellets is an antiretroviral mixture of lopinavir and ritonavir, necessary prescription drugs when treating HIV in patients that are 3 years of age and younger.
This treatment is predicted to be successful with young children because the oral pellets can be mixed into their food. Many HIV treatments have an unpleasant taste, which deters children from consistently taking their medicine.
Craig McClure, UNICEF’s chief of HIV/AIDS section, says that “This new formulation is a step in the right direction towards saving more lives of children living with HIV. We expect it to greatly improve treatment access for many more children and support UNICEF’s equity-focused programming aimed at reaching the most disadvantaged children throughout the world.”
HIV infection progresses rapidly in children due to their weak immune systems. In highly impacted countries, HIV is a main contributor to child morbidity and mortality, as “Without treatment, one in three children who become infected with HIV will die before their first birthday. Half will die before their second birthday.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends an early initiation of antiretroviral treatment in children infected with HIV to significantly reduce the risk of death.
However, many countries have not been able to implement the WHO’s recommendation because they do not have an appropriate, heat-stable pediatric treatment. “Despite global efforts to accelerate access to HIV pediatric care and treatment, fewer than 800,000 of the 3.2 million children living with HIV worldwide had access to antiretroviral medicines in 2013.”
This can all change with the introduction of these oral pellets.
– Kerri Szulak