Aid Agencies said that a strawberry-flavored tablet for children living with HIV will be rolled out in African countries in 2021, the first generic pediatric version of a key anti-retroviral available even for babies.
According to reports, Benin, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zimbabwe are due to receive the first tablets in the first half of 2021. Reports have also indicated that some 100 000 children die of AIDS annually.
UnitAid, a global health agency, and the Clinton Health Access Initiative have reached a pricing agreement with the generic drugmakers Viatris and Macleods for the dispersible pediatric formulation of dolutegravir, a statement said.
According to stats, some 1.7 million children worldwide live with HIV, but only half receive any treatment often hard to administer due to the bitter taste or incorrectly dosed by crushing adult pills, Unitaid said.
“For many of those children, the HIV virus is not suppressed due in part to lack of availability of effective drugs that are palatable and properly adapted for them,” Unitaid spokesman Herve Verhoosel told a Geneva news briefing.
The first-line HIV treatment is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) from the age of four weeks and 3 kilos, but it had been out of reach for babies because of the lack of appropriate formulations.
The estimated cost for combination therapy will now be some $120 for a child’s annual treatment, against $480 currently, making it a “game-changer” for poorer countries, Unitaid said.
Meanwhile, in Kenya, Statistics from the National AIDS and STI Control Program (NASCOP) showed that HIV infections in the country currently stand at 1.5 million, with more than 41, 000 registered in 2019 alone.
According to the NASCOP, the distribution of prevalence by gender showed that of the 1.5 million infections, 942,653 were women while only 565,752 were males, adding that men normally lack the confidence to test.
Figures from the report also showed that 21 percent of babies turned positive between the ages of 18 to 24 months while 17 percent between 24-36 months.
HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, according to the new data from the National Aids Control Council, (NACC), the country is losing at least 57 people every day to HIV and Aids-related illnesses.
Experts say the numbers may be worse in 2021 following the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted testing by diverting the attention of the MOH and the government from other killer diseases to the COVID_19 pandemic alone.