Public-Private Partnership to bring hope for children living with HIV

By Jessica Daly/March 01, 2013

About the Author: Jessica Daly is the Director for Private Sector Engagement in the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator

Significant global progress is being made toward the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where the burden remains highest. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), new HIV infections among children decreased by 24 percent between 2009 and 2011. This progress is very encouraging, but we can never lose sight of the needs of the estimated 3.4 million babies and children who are already living with HIV, each of whom needs treatment and care. More than 90 percent of these children reside in Africa, and only 28 percent of all eligible children received antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 2011. Over the past decade, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United States has supported an eight-fold increase in children receiving HIV treatment and care. But there is still much more work to be done.

To help accelerate progress on pediatric HIV treatment and care, PEPFAR continues broker innovative public-private partnerships (PPPs) that can both expand service access and strengthen the capacity of partner country health systems to deliver these services moving forward.

Last month, the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator once again brought together leading private companies from across pharmacology and diagnostic businesses, key U.S. government officials, civil society, and multilateral stakeholders to discuss key challenges and opportunities in the areas of investment, research and development, and implementation science related to pediatric HIV. This meeting marked the eighth year of this unprecedented public-private partnership, which promotes scientific and technical dialogue and problem-solving around pediatric HIV treatment, formulations, and access.

Many other efforts are also ongoing to improve currently available formulations and diagnostics for pediatric care and treatment. In addition, new technologies to improve the identification of children living with HIV, quality of care, and retention in care are also on the horizon. One potential game-changer—point-of-care diagnostics—are remarkably close to becoming available for widespread use. Mobile technology is being tested for use in tracking mother-baby pairs so that those who are brought into a continuum of care are better retained in it. New recommendations for pediatric treatment also offer the promise of a more simplified and effective approach to supporting infants and children.

The recent announcement of a new cooperation between the Medicines Patent Pool and ViiV Healthcare (a collaboration between GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Shionogi) provides another example of a promising partnership to help improve access to pediatric treatment. Through this partnership, ViiV will provide the MPP with a license for Abacavir, a World Health Organization-recommended drug for pediatric HIV treatment. The license will allow for improved access to Abacavir in the 118 countries where the majority (98.7 percent) of children living with HIV reside. ViiV Healthcare also announced that it will make other pediatric formulations of anti-retroviral medicines, which are currently in the pipeline, eligible for licensing to the MPP for these same 118 countries following regulatory approval.

Collaboration such as this offer children living with HIV and their parents hope for a better day – and represent another important step along the path to creating an AIDS-free generation.