Sounds like an oxymoron, right? Well, sadly, it’s not. HIV transmission from mom to baby (affectionately referred to as Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV) has almost been eliminated in wealthy countries due to effective prevention strategies but the same can’t be said for many poor regions. While the reasons for this are complex, one factor remains: there is very little market incentive for pharmaceutical companies to develop paediatric HIV drugs that are appropriate and safe.
Thankfully, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi)—a not-for-profit organization that uses an alternative model to develop medicine for neglected diseases–is doing something about it. On July 18th at the 6th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, DNDi announced the launch of a new program that aims to address this unmet need. More details can be found here. According to Dr. Bernard Pécoul, the Executive Director of DNDi:
“There are millions of children with HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income countries, but their needs are absent from the HIV research and development agenda, and this is largely because they are poor and voiceless and do not represent a lucrative market. Working with partners, we hope to help fill this terrible gap and offer improved treatment options for children with HIV/AIDS.”
I can imagine a world where more people are able to live a healthy and fruitful life. Ideally, this begins with a healthy childhood. Props to DNDi for refusing to accept such a grim global reality.