News / Africa

For Children with AIDS, a Tolerable Regimen

A nun sits among children with AIDS at Nyumbani children's home, Nairobi, Kenya, June 2001 (file photo).
A nun sits among children with AIDS at Nyumbani children's home, Nairobi, Kenya, June 2001 (file photo).

For most of his short life, 14-year-old Lazarus has been on a strict drug regimen he calls "easy and hard."

"Like, in the morning, they are easy, and then they are hard," he says. "In the morning I take only four tablets and in the evening I take six, actually, the evening one, when I take [the tablets], I feel like I am a little bit dizzy. When I take all of them I hurt my neck."

Lazarus lives in Nyumbani, a home on the outskirts of Nairobi for orphaned children living with HIV/AIDS. He began his treatment a decade ago and developed resistance to some of the drugs during the process.

His situation reflects what children living with HIV/AIDS typically experience when receiving treatment. They often have to take many pills or bitter syrups and, commonly, adult dosages are divided into smaller parts for children, which can be dangerous if portions aren't properly sized.

But for many children just beginning their regimens, all that is changing. At the end of 2006, UNITAID, a global health initiative to increase access to medicine in developing countries established by Brazil, France, Norway, Chile and Britain, started a project to spur demand for child-friendly AIDS medicines.

The result is one pill, designed to be taken twice daily, that combines up to 16 different medicines. The special fixed-dose combination is a first-line treatment primarily meant for children starting their regimen, and for roughly 26 of 114 AIDS orphans living at Nyumbani, the pill provides welcome relief.

The home's executive director, Sister Mary Owens, says she is seeing a big difference.

"They had to take five, six, seven tablets - we had to break tablets, we had to open capsules," she says, describing a typical daily regimen before the pill's 2009 introduction. "Some of our children who went on anti-retroviral treatment after [the two-dose combination] became available are on one pill in the morning and one pill in the evening, so we’re very, very grateful for that."

She's also grateful for the international lobbyists who approached the large pharmaceutical companies that, in her opinion, should be motivated by more than just profits.

"[When] you think of a child inheriting the HIV virus and having to live their life with that virus, taking medication every day, all the other restrictions that affect the child’s life as the child grows up: this is totally unjust," she says.

Creating incentive


UNITAID spokesperson Daniela Bagozzi says virtually no children are born with HIV in the developing world, as measures have been taken to prevent HIV transmission during pregnancy. According to UNITAID estimates, of the developing world's 2.5 million children now living with HIV, nine out of 10 are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

She says pharmaceuticals initially did not see a viable market for children’s AIDS drugs, but now, after international lobbying efforts, companies are developing the medicines. Funded by government contributions and a tax on airline tickets, the UNITAID program, in partnership with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, now provides medicines to about 360,000 children worldwide.

"We approached the Indian generic manufacturers and basically we put the money on the table saying, 'Okay, we have these funds which are predictable and long-term, and we will be buying the medicines for the next three to four years.'" she says. "So this gave them the incentive to actually create medicines that were tailored to children’s needs."

According to United Nations AIDS agency estimates, out of the 1.8 million people who died of AIDS in 2009, one in seven were children, with an estimated 400,000 children becoming newly infected the same year.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid