The importance of treating pediatric AIDS in the elimination agenda
Scott Kellerman and colleagues argue that the scope of the current HIV elimination agenda must be broadened in order to ensure access to care and treatment for all children living with HIV.
In 2011, despite the global initiative to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV, 330,000 new pediatric infections were added worldwide to the existing pool of 3.4 million children living with the virus. Children are more vulnerable to HIV infection and have higher morbidity and mortality. Without treatment, half of those children infected will die before the age of 2 years, yet only one third of those eligible for treatment are currently receiving antiretroviral therapy.
The paper argues that current initiatives focus on interventions within the traditional prevention cascade which involve prevention of mother-to-child transmission. This focus is welcome but it is not enough. The scope of the elimination agenda must be broadened in order to ensure access to care and treatment for all children living with HIV. This expanded agenda must address challenges around reducing vertical transmission and ensuring access to appropriate HIV testing, care, and treatment for all affected children.