New strawberry-flavoured ARVs have been introduced for HIV+ children

The new paediatric medicines which were recently registered by the South Africa Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) are expected to drastically improve the health outcomes of children living with HIV.

Dr Leon Levin, senior paediatric adviser at health NGO Right to Care, who has been treating children with HIV for more than 25 years, says the ARVs currently being used for young children have a very unpleasant taste – so much so that some children either spit or vomit the medicine out.

This makes it difficult for them to take their life-saving medicine.

“Children respond very well to antiretroviral therapy (ART), but we need them to take it. These improved paediatric formulations are going to make a major difference. They are very effective and taste great. We’ll be able to better control HIV in children and enable them to live normal, long, healthy lives. This is very good news for all HIV-positive children,” says Dr Levin.

Dr Julia Turner, a senior technical adviser at Right to Care, says no child should die or become sick from HIV ever again.

“Children on ARVs can look forward to living as long and healthily as those who don’t have HIV. Another benefit is that by taking their medication and controlling the disease, they will not pass on HIV to their partners and children when they grow up. HIV is now a very easily managed disease.”

Turner and Levin appeal to all parents and caregivers to make sure that their HIV-positive child is on the best medication and to check with their healthcare worker if their child’s HIV is well controlled.

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