U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new anti-retroviral formulation that can be mixed with food, making it easier for children living with HIV to take their life-saving medicines. This is contained in a joint statement issued on Saturday by UN Programme on HIV/AID (UNAIDS) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It quoted the UNAIDS Executive Director, Mr Michel Sidibe, as saying that treatment innovations such as the one that replaces unpleasant and bad-tasting medicines were a real breakthrough. Sidibe said the new development would accelerate access to treatment for children and keep them healthy. According to him, only 24 per cent of children living with HIV have access to antiretroviral drugs. The UNAIDS chief also said the treatment was heat stable and more palatable than medicines currently available, making it particularly suitable for treating very young children. “Produced by Indian generic medicines manufacturer, CIPLA, the oral pellets contain an anti-retroviral formulation of lopinavir and ritonavir that can be mixed into a child’s food,” he explained. Mr Craig McClure, UNICEF’s Chief of HIV/AIDS section said the new formula was a step in the right direction towards saving the lives of more children living with HIV.
HIV infection progresses rapidly in children and, in highly-impacted countries, was a major contributor to child morbidity and mortality. Without treatment, one in three children who become infected with HIV would die before his or her first birthday and also half would die before their second birthday. Early initiation of antiretroviral treatment in children substantially reduced the risk of death. Reports say in spite of global efforts to accelerate access to HIV paediatric care and treatment, fewer than 800,000 of the 3.2 million children living with HIV worldwide had access to antiretroviral medicines in 2013.