Treatment of Young Children with HIV Infection: Using Evidence to Inform Policymakers

Despite efforts to scale up prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, over 1,000 infants continue to be infected daily, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa [1]. Disease progression in infants is much more rapid than in older children and adults, with mortality exceeding 50% by 2 years of age in the absence of antiretroviral therapy (ART) [2]. Although combination ART has been available since 1997, diagnosis and treatment of infants is much more challenging compared to older children and adults (Box 1).Furthermore, until recently there was little evidence to guide treatment approaches in infants and young children, with international policymakers relying on data from cohort studies and expert opinion to inform guidelines. In the past 5 years, results have emerged from several randomized clinical trials of children with HIV under 2 years of age (Table 1) [3–8]; a systematic review of these trials has just been published [9]. Here, we consider the implications of research findings for forthcoming World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and, ultimately, for policymakers, who will need to weigh efficacy and feasibility of interventions in their particular settings in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).
Prendergast, A. J., Penazzato, M., Cotton, M., Musoke, P., Mulenga, V., Abrams, E. J., & Gibb, D. M. (2012). Treatment of young children with HIV infection: using evidence to inform policymakers. PLoS medicine, 9(7), e1001273.