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Advancing HIV treatment for children in Africa

In 2011, 3.3M children were living with HIV/ Aids, with around 10 per cent newly infected with HIV. The vast majority of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa where diagnosis and treatment are under-resourced. An international team including researchers and practitioners from the University of Uganda, Joint Clinical Research Centre (Uganda), University of Zimbabwe, MRC/Uganda Virus Research Instate Programme on AIDS and The Paediatric Infectious Disease Clinic (PIDIC) led a project to explore how best to use anti-HIV medicines in children to help control the disease.

In current practices, doctors conduct regular blood tests around every 12 weeks to see how well medicines are working. Blood tests however are both expensive and not widely available in sub-Saharan Africa. The ARROW programme aimed to find out whether anti-HIV drugs can be given safely and effectively without the need for as many tests, and also looked at drug type, use and dosage. In the UK, the MRC Clinical Trials Unit analysed data from more than 1,200 children involved in the study who needed to start taking anti-HIV treatment immediately. It is hoped that the results will offer encouragement for healthcare workers on the ground, removing the barriers to secure more children onto HIV treatment in sub-Saharan Africa.

The work was funded jointly by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Medical Research Council (MRC). Some drugs were provided by GlaxoSmithKline Limited.

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