Kids with AIDS Lack of Medicines

MSF calls for parents to make a wish to ensure the access to drugs for them

Across the globe last year, 700,000 children were newly infected with HIV ¡V half a million of them live in Africa, compared to only 250 in Europe and North America. In developed countries with access to medicines and treatments, mother-to-child transmission of HIV is avoided in 99% of the cases, and babies can be tested early on and put on treatment in time. However, this is far from the reality in developing countries.

Most of the babies born with HIV come from developing countries. As developing AIDS drugs for poor kids is not profitable, many companies don't even study the existing or new adult anti-retroviral drugs in children. And there are no affordable AIDS tests that work in babies or medicines that kids can take easily. Without treatment, half of babies born with HIV in poor countries die before their second birthday. International medical humanitarian aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) calls on all drug companies to systematically study all of their AIDS drugs in children and make easy-to-use formulations for kids now.

On the eve of World AIDS Day, MSF Hong Kong office has invited a group of parents from different walks of life in this city, to participate in a wishing ceremony with their children, aged from 6 to 30 months. They blew the candles on the cake with a shape of Arabic number "2", and hoped that if more drug companies can invest in research and development of AIDS drugs for children, these paediatric patients can have access to medicines and can enjoy their second and all the birthdays coming.

In the ceremony, Dr Arthur Pang who has worked in the HIV/AIDS programmes in Xiangfan, Hubei province in the mainland and Cape town in South Africa said, "There are few adapted and affordable paediatric formulations for the 2.2 million children living with HIV globally. MSF frontline medical staff have to crush and break adult ARV tablets for children, which make it difficult to give the right dose. Both over-dosing and under-dosing can be dangerous. And in the absence of child-strength pills that combine all needed drugs in one tablets (Fixed Dose Combination), paediatric patients have to take a lot of pills everyday."

"Even if there are some syrups and powder formulations that exist for children, it is difficult to administrate resource-poor settings. Some syrups with foul taste must be refrigerated, and powders require clean drinking water," Dr Pang added.

MSF is providing anti-retroviral treatment to over 57,000 patients in a total of 29 countries, among which around 3,500 (6%) are children under 15.