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First Lady Announces New Partnership for Pediatric AIDS Drugs

At the White House Monday, First Lady Laura Bush announced a new public / private partnership to help children with HIV/AIDS. It’s estimated there are 2.3 million children are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Mrs. Bush says for the first time, companies that make brand name and generic AIDS drugs will join the US government and multi-lateral organizations to speed the availability of those drugs to children.

Among the groups taking part is the Washington, DC-based Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Mark Isaac is the foundation’s vice-president for policy. He spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the new partnership.

“Mrs. Bush is right to focus on children and mothers because they’re dying at alarming rates and they’re often left behind in our response to the AIDS pandemic. The partnership she announced today (Monday) has tremendous potential if all the participants follow through and commit to real action. And it would our hope that they commit to bold action on getting drugs that are suitable for children tested and approved; create an all-in-one pill for children and lower prices to make it easier to treat children. And most important of all since about 15 percent of all new infections are among children, we should also commit to ensuring that 15 percent of all patients treated for HIV and AIDS be children. That’s really the only way to save the next generation, which is at risk of being decimated in many countries,” he says.

Currently, many of the AIDS drugs now available for not suitable for children or are very expensive.

Isaac says the Glaser Foundation has several recommendations for the new partnership. These include testing more first and second line drug for use in children; creating the first FDA-approved fixed dose combination for children; develop newer, better tasting drugs that are easily administered; and finally dramatically lower the price for pediatric AIDS drugs.