Children Slip Through Cracks of AIDS Efforts

AIDS WHO.jpg NYT: “Efforts to greatly expand antiretroviral treatment for AIDS in poor countries are not reaching a vast majority of children who need it, a World Health Organization official said [in Toronto] on Wednesday.

The official, Dr. Kevin M. De Cock, who directs the organization’s AIDS program, said that an estimated 2.3 million children 15 and under around the world are infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, and that 800,000 of them needed antiretroviral drugs to stay alive. Of the 800,000, only 60,000 to 100,000 are receiving therapy. While the children account for 14 percent of AIDS deaths, they make up only 6 percent of recipients of antiretroviral drug therapy. Many of the children are orphans.“We must conclude that scale-up has so far left children behind,” Dr. De Cock said in a featured talk at the 16th International Conference on AIDS, which has attracted 24,000 participants. His comments drew on an extensive review of progress in efforts to step up antiretroviral treatment.

At the same time, Dr. De Cock said, fewer than 10 percent of pregnant women with H.I.V. in poor and middle-income countries are receiving the simple regimen of pills that can prevent the transmission of the AIDS virus to their newborns. By contrast, rich countries have virtually eliminated pediatric AIDS.”