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HIV children in Africa to have better treatment

HIV children in Africa to have better treatment under new UN-backed accord

Children living with HIV/AIDS in Eastern and Southern Africa will have greater access to antiretrovirals and other treatments under an agreement signed this week between the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Baylor College of Medicine of Texas.

“This collaboration is good news for children living with HIV and AIDS in the countries of this region, where far too many still don’t receive the care and treatment they need,”UNICEF Regional Director Per Engebak said.

“It marks a step forward in the Global Campaign on Children and AIDS, which was launched last year specifically to encourage collaborative efforts such as this one to prevent children from becoming infected with HIV and to improve treatment, care and support for children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.”

Some 2.3 million children are living with HIV and more than 5 million have died from the pandemic so far, most of them in Africa.

Antiretroviral therapies (ARTs) have only recently become available to greater numbers of people in Africa, but children remain often undiagnosed and underserved. Pediatric formulations of most ARTs are not readily available and health care providers throughout the region lack training in treating children for AIDS.

Also, far too few children receive even low-cost antibiotics to prevent or treat the common opportunistic infections they often endure. The new collaboration between Baylor and UNICEF is heralded as a critical step in transforming pediatric AIDS treatment in the region.

“This new partnership will help Baylor and UNICEF catalyze expanded access to treatment for HIV-infected children and families across 20 countries of Eastern and Southern Africa,” said the Vice President of International Affairs of Baylor’s Pediatric AIDS Initiative, Michael B. Mizwa, who signed the agreement together with Mr. Engebak.

“These countries are the hardest hit by HIV/AIDS compared to any others on the face of the globe,” he added.

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