Stepping Up the Pace to End AIDS in Children

Ending AIDS in children was at the forefront of discussions all week during the 20th International AIDS Conference.

Mia Collis/Kenya

The 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) promised to “Step up the Pace” when it comes to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, with a renewed focus on prioritizing children in those efforts.

Throughout the week, experts from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) along with many global leaders, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, discussed the critical gaps in care and treatment that still face the more than 3 million children living with HIV worldwide. Currently only one quarter of all HIV-positive children have access to treatment.

In addition to its first-ever Gap Report, which was issued on July 16, UNAIDS also announced ambitious new treatment targets, which call for 90 percent of all people living with HIV to know their status, 90 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV infection to receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have durable viral suppression by 2020. These “90-90-90” targets also include children living with HIV. EGPAF President and CEO Chip Lyons discussed EGPAF’s role in developing these targets for pediatric patients and what we need to do to achieve them during a satellite session with UNAIDS during the conference. 

Chip also joined the International AIDS Society (IAS) and ViiV Healthcare for a press conference on July 24 that announced an additional £1.5 million in funding for its pediatric HIV program known as the Collaborative Initiative for Pediatric HIV Education and Research or CIPHER. The new funding will attempt to address a significant gap in HIV – understanding and advancing new ways to prevent and treat HIV among children in resource limited settings. Panellists also addressed the reasons why children continue to be left behind when it comes to HIV care and treatment.  Watch the press conference below.

Also on Thursday, the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) announced an extended agreement with Gilead Sciences, Inc., to improve access to tenofovir alafenamide fumarate (TAF), a promising new HIV medication. While TAF is still in Phase III clinical trials, early data suggests it could be a key ingredient in the next generation of first-line fixed-dose treatment options for children living with HIV.

"With only one in four children living with HIV currently getting treatment, we cannot continue to do business as usual," said Charles Lyons, EGPAF president and CEO. "We congratulate MPP and Gilead on this expanded collaboration and their proactive efforts to support countries and populations hardest hit by HIV and AIDS. This is the kind of innovative action we need now in order to protect the health of affected children and in order to achieve an AIDS-free generation.”

And delegates weren’t only focused on treatment; prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) was also a key focus at AIDS 2014, including an exciting announcement from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that it will provide $250 million over the next five years to implement its Strengthening High Impact Interventions for an AIDS-Free Generation (AIDSFree) project. AIDSFree aims to improve the effectiveness of high-impact, evidence-based HIV interventions such as PMTCT and accelerate the speed with which these interventions are brought to scale at country-level.

At EGPAF we are very excited about the possibilities all of these new endeavors will bring to the effort to end AIDS in children. We look forward to continuing our work as part of the global HIV/AIDS community until no child has AIDS.

Stay tuned to our blog to get more insights from key sessions that took place at AIDS 2014!