WASHINGTON and LONDON, June 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, ViiV Healthcare and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation announced a new partnership that will expedite access to lifesaving HIV care and treatment and help children live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. ViiV Healthcare has committed $2m over a two-year period to fund the partnership.
As part of a multi-pronged strategy, the ViiV Healthcare-Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation partnership will increase early detection of HIV and access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for more HIV-positive infants and young children; strengthen government leadership and policies around pediatric HIV/AIDS; and improve the quality and use of pediatric care and treatment data to advance the effectiveness of its services.
The partnership will primarily focus on three countries with particularly high rates of HIV/AIDS – Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland – and build upon the Foundation's existing efforts in those three countries.
The new partnership will also support advocacy efforts to address policy barriers and support the prioritization of pediatric HIV care and treatment policies in other Foundation-supported countries, including Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. All program activities supported by this partnership will be designed and conducted in close collaboration with host country governments and civil society organizations in order to support national ownership and increase local capacity to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate pediatric HIV services.
"ViiV Healthcare has shown tremendous leadership in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and we are honored to be collaborating with them on this critical issue," said Charles Lyons, President and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. "Our combined expertise will help save more children's lives and bring about positive change more quickly than if either of us acted alone."
"Supporting the most vulnerable populations is core to ViiV Healthcare's commitment to those affected by HIV and AIDS, namely children. In order to achieve this objective we are delighted to expand our long-term partnership with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation in a new project to increase access to HIV care and treatment for infants and young children," said Dr. Dominique Limet, CEO of ViiV Healthcare. "Our shared vision is to scale up access to care for children in need and together I believe we can make a significant and demonstrable impact on their quality of life."
Although medical advances have virtually eliminated pediatric HIV and AIDS in the developed world, infants and young children throughout the developing world continue to become infected at staggering rates. Latest figures indicate that today, more than 2.1 million children are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, with nearly 95 percent residing in resource-poor environments. Untreated, HIV-infected infants and young children die more quickly and at higher rates. However, access to care and treatment for HIV-positive children remains woefully inadequate in many of these environments.
The partnership between ViiV Healthcare and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation specifically addresses critical gaps in current HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment programs. Despite available medicine and treatment, the majority of children living with HIV acquire the virus through mother-to-child transmission: during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. An astounding 1,200 children are newly infected with HIV every day. Approximately one-half of these children will die before their second birthdays unless their infection is diagnosed and ART is initiated; early initiation of ART in infants reduces illness and death by 75 percent.
Antiretroviral therapy has proven successful in children, yet the majority of those in need do not receive treatment; currently, only 38 percent of children in need of ART are receiving it in low- and middle-income countries; infants and children under two years of age are much less likely to receive treatment than are older children. Barriers that impede access for children include health worker discomfort with testing and treating young children, logistical challenges with testing, limited community awareness, and national policies.
In the coming months, the partnership will support a number of critical activities including:
- Rolling out a national provider-initiated testing and counseling program focusing on infants and young children in Swaziland in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.
- Training and mentoring healthcare workers in Lesotho to increase the ability to provide child-friendly testing, counseling and comprehensive HIV care and treatment at the health center level.
- Increasing testing of infants and young children in Malawi by improving logistics and engaging community health workers to ensure those children and their caregivers receive test results and are linked to care.
- Strengthening efforts to document program outcomes and to understand what works to improve access in Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland.
About the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is a global leader in the fight against pediatric HIV and AIDS, working in 17 countries to implement prevention and care and treatment; to further advance innovative research; and to execute strategic and targeted global advocacy activities to bring dramatic change to the lives of millions of women, children, and families worldwide.
About ViiV Healthcare
ViiV Healthcare is a global specialist HIV company established by GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK.L) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) to deliver advances in treatment and care for people living with HIV. Our aim is to take a deeper and broader interest in HIV/AIDS than any company has done before and then take a new approach to deliver effective and new HIV medicines as well as support communities affected by HIV.
SOURCE Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; ViiV Healthcare