The most pressing gaps in research needed to improve outcomes for children and adolescents living with HIV are highlighted in the first global priority research agendas on pediatric and adolescent HIV, released at the 9th IAS Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2017) today.
The International AIDS Society’s (IAS’s) Collaborative Initiative for Paediatric HIV Education and Research (CIPHER) and the World Health Organization (WHO) developed the new priority research agendas, entitled “Research for an AIDS-Free Generation: A Global Research Agenda for Paediatric HIV” and “Research for an AIDS-Free Generation: A Global Research Agenda for Adolescents Living with HIV.”
They were shaped through a global process led by a working group of experts and informed by consultations with researchers, healthcare workers, donors, civil society representatives, policy makers and global organizations.
A boy receives medication at a center for HIV-positive mothers and their children in Johannesburg.
The new guidance represents an international consensus on the top priority questions in testing, treatment and service delivery for children and adolescents living with HIV. The guidance is designed to inform the work of all stakeholders involved in funding, supporting or conducting clinical and operational research in pediatric and adolescent HIV worldwide.
“Everything we know about the pediatric and adolescent HIV epidemics points to the need for more and better-tailored research to address the many clinical and implementation research questions that remain unanswered in the global response,” IAS President Linda-Gail Bekker said.
“These priority research agendas can help answer the most pressing questions in the field, streamline research, maximize investments, inform important policy changes and, ultimately, improve the lives of infants, children, and adolescents living with HIV.”
HIV testing and treatment rates are lower for children and adolescents than for adults. Only 43% of children living with HIV are accessing antiretroviral treatment (ART), and only 43% of HIV-exposed infants are tested by the recommended age of two months.
In 2016, 260,000 adolescents became infected with HIV. With the successful scale up and effectiveness of ART, more children living with HIV are growing into adolescence and require ongoing support to remain in care and adhere to ART.
“We must take action now to close the gaps in the HIV response for children and adolescents, to deliver better HIV prevention, treatment, and testing to those in greatest need,” WHO HIV Department Director Gottfried Hirnschall said.
“The IAS/WHO process has helped us to define priority areas for further research, to inform global policies and implementation to bring us closer to an AIDS-free generation for infants, children and adolescents.”
“Research for an AIDS-Free Generation: A Global Research Agenda for Paediatric HIV” identified the following as the top research priority areas for infants and children living with and affected by HIV in the areas of testing, treatment and service delivery:
“Research for an AIDS-Free Generation: A Global Research Agenda for Adolescents Living with HIV” identified the following research priorities for adolescents living with HIV in the areas of testing, treatment and service delivery:
In addition to highlighting the most urgent area for research focus in pediatric and adolescent HIV, the new agendas also make recommendations to maximize the impact of new and ongoing research efforts in the field.