VIDEO: Action needed to achieve ‘AIDS-free generation’
Martina Penazzato, MD, PhD, DTMH, MSc, reviewed the obstacles that stand in the way of an “AIDS-free generation” in her presentation on pediatric HIV during the International AIDS Conference, while also highlighting potential solutions.
“I think this is an opportunity to review some of the obstacles that we have but also focus on potential solutions that will help us reach what we call ‘the AIDS-free generation,’ where children will not be born with HIV anymore,” Penazzato, the pediatric lead for WHO’s HIV, Hepatitis and STIs Unit, told Healio.
Despite progress in reducing vertical transmission, 150,000 children were still infected with HIV last year, according to Penazzato. She emphasized that “urgent action” is needed to provide lifesaving interventions to children in need.
“I think that this will be an opportunity for us to call attention to this important topic and ensure that we generate political momentum and support to ensure that children and adolescents with HIV remain on the global agenda for the HIV response,” she said.
Penazzato also noted that children with HIV who are taking antivirals do not achieve the same virologic suppression as adults, which is likely due to the prescribing of “suboptimal regimens” or inappropriate formulations. Expediting the administration of dolutegravir to children will be important for future progress as well, she said.
“This will require action at the country level by ensuring we make appropriate plans for introduction, but we must also follow through on the rollout that needs to occur,” Penazzato said. “Through this, we have an opportunity to improve outcomes for children, but we can only do so if we don’t focus just on viral suppression but also address the other comorbidities and other vulnerabilities that children living with HIV have.”