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Simpler drug to suppress child HIV

Thursday December 30th 2021

A simple, low-cost treatment for children with HIV may provide improved care, British researchers have reported.

Professor Diana Gibb of University College London, UK, carried out a trial of the once-a-day antiretroviral medicine, dolutegravir, which is already given to adults with HIV.

More than 700 children and young people aged three to 18 years, at 29 clinical centres in Africa, Europe and Asia, were given either dolutegravir or a placebo. Details were published last night in New England Journal of Medicine.

After two years, the results showed that a dolutegravir-based regimen cuts the risk of treatment failure, defined as the virus becoming measurable in the blood, by about 40% compared with the standard treatment.

Subsequently, new guidance has been released by the World Health Organisation recommending its use.

“Our findings provide strong evidence for the global roll-out of dolutegravir for children with HIV," said Professor Gibb.

“Medical treatments for children often lag woefully behind those of adults because of the separate formulations and studies that are needed. With the evidence from ODYSSEY which used simplified dosing of both adult and baby pills, this treatment gap has been reduced and we hope that countries can quickly scale up access to children globally.”

Lead author Dr Anna Turkova added: “About 1.8 million children live with HIV but they have had limited treatment options, with medicines that taste unpalatable, that need to be taken twice a day, or that come in large pills that are difficult to swallow.

“Dolutegravir is given in small tablets usually once a day and the baby pills can be dispersed in water, meaning it’s a lot easier for young children to take.

"This is important in encouraging uptake of the treatment and adherence to it over many years.”

Turkova, A. et al. Odyssey: Dolutegravir for first- and second-line HIV treatment in children. NEJM 29 December 2021


Tags: Child Health | Flu & Viruses | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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