EGPAF Policy Roundtable Addresses the Future of Pediatric AIDS Prevention and Treatment Worldwide
On Tuesday, June 24, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) hosted a high-level policy roundtable discussion on current advancements, investment opportunities, and future innovations in pediatric AIDS treatment.
Michael Gerson, op-ed columnist for The Washington Post and Policy Fellow at the ONE campaign, moderated the roundtable, and special guests included Ambassador Deborah Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Rajiv Shah, M.D., Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Deborah Persaud, M.D. of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, who led the investigation that developed the first functional cure of HIV in two infants in Mississippi and California.
“We have made tremendous progress, but there are still major challenges ahead,” said Charles Lyons, EGPAF president and CEO. “It’s unacceptable that only a third of children living with HIV are getting treatment. There is an urgency that is missing. Knowing the status of more kids and finding the incentives for them to return to care will result in a dramatic uptake in the care and treatment of these children.”
The panels also addressed programmatic investments to accelerate progress towards ending AIDS in children, and explored future innovations in pediatric AIDS prevention, treatment, and cure research.
Dr. Persaud discussed how the success of a functional cure in children may inform the broader delivery of maternal and pediatric care in both the United States and around the globe.
“The Mississippi baby case provided proof that a cure is possible. But we need more than one case, we need long term follow-up,” said Dr. Persaud. “[The case] represented collaboration and investment in the field of pediatric AIDS treatment.”
Ambassador Birx addressed the need to take joint action to increase pediatric treatment access, share data and success stories across the global community so that countries that still suffer from high infection rates may learn from those who have made great strides in preventing and treating pediatric AIDS. She was also adamant that reducing stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV has to be a global priority.
“If one group is stigmatized, everyone feels unsafe. Our partners and our patients feel unsafe. We need to approach the HIV epidemic as a human rights issue, and we can’t wait 20 or 30 years for this to reverse. This stigma is a threat to public health,” Birx said.
The event was held at Pew Charitable Trusts, in Washington, D.C. Other panelists included Shaffiq Essajee, M.D., Clinton Health Access Initiative; José G Esparaza Bracho, M.D., Ph.D., University of Maryland; Lynne Mofenson, M.D., National Institute of Child Health; Douglas F. Nixon, M.D., Ph.D., George Washington University; Peter McDermott, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation; and Gwynn Stevens, Ph.D., Cepheid.