Critical research strategies and interventions established for pediatric and adolescent HIV

The highest priority research agendas needed to improve the testing and treatment of children and adolescents with HIV were presented at the 9th International Aids Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Science in Paris this weekend.

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Currently, the rates of HIV testing and treatment are lower for children than they are for adults. Less than half of children who have been exposed to HIV are tested by the recommended age of two months and less than half have access to antiretroviral therapy.

Director of the HIV Department at the World Health Organization (WHO), Gottfried Hirnschall, says: “We must take action now to close the gaps in the HIV response for children and adolescents, to deliver better HIV prevention, treatment and testing to those in greatest need.”

The new research agendas have been developed by IAS in collaboration with WHO and are entitled “Research for an AIDS-Free Generation: A Global Research Agenda for Paediatric HIV” and “Research for an AIDS-Free Generation: A Global Research Agenda for Adolescents Living with HIV.”

Led by a working group of experts, this global process involved discussions with researchers, donors, healthcare workers, policy makers, global organizations and civil society representatives and is hoped to provide guidance for people involved in the funding, support or research of pediatric and adolescent HIV worldwide.

For infants and children living with or affected by HIV, some of the top research priorities are:

  • Optimal placement and timing of new diagnostic tools for point-of-care use
  • Approaches to ensure timely linkage between HIV diagnosis, treatment and care
  • Interventions or strategies to improve access to and uptake of HIV testing services for infants and children, particularly community-based approaches
  • Safety, efficacy, acceptability, pharmacokinetics and optimal dosing of existing and new antiretroviral drugs and formulations, particularly with novel drug delivery systems
  • Strategies or interventions to improve adherence, and factors that affect their success

For adolescents, some of the priorities are:

  • Strategies and interventions to improve access to and uptake of HIV testing services, and factors that impact their success
  • Strategies and interventions to improve linkage of newly diagnosed adolescents to HIV treatment, and factors that impact their success
  • Safe and acceptable strategies or interventions to improve access to and uptake of HIV testing services for adolescents from key populations
  • Effective monitoring approaches and strategies to improve adherence among adolescents and factors that impact their success
  • Safety, efficacy and acceptability of novel drug delivery systems

IAS president Linda-Gail Bekker says that what is known so far about pediatric and HIV epidemics is that more and improved targeted research is needed to tackle the unanswered questions that remain in the global response:

These priority research agendas can help answer the most pressing questions in the field, streamline research, maximize investments, inform important policy changes and, ultimately, improve the lives of infants, children and adolescents living with HIV.”
Sally Robertson

Written by

Sally Robertson

Sally first developed an interest in medical communications when she took on the role of Journal Development Editor for BioMed Central (BMC), after having graduated with a degree in biomedical science from Greenwich University.

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