Vatican to hold dialogue on paediatric HIV

Picture credit: Biofides. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

ROME - A high-level dialogue on the diagnosis and treatment of paediatric HIV will be held at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican on Thursday and Friday. It will be convened by Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development. CEOs of pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies will attend, as part of the Holy See’s appeal to assure optimal drugs formulations and testing tools for young people living with HIV.

 The meeting entitled ‘High-Level Dialogue to Assess Progress on and Intensify Commitment to Scaling Up Diagnosis and Treatment of Paediatric HIV’, will be organised by the co-chairs of the AIDS Free Working Group of the Start Free, Stay Free and AIDS Free Framework, PEPFAR, UNAIDS, in collaboration with partners of the AIDS Free Working Group, including Caritas Internationalis and the World Council of Churches-Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.

 Leaders of major diagnostic and pharmaceutical companies, as well as multilateral organisations, governments and regulators will participate in the consultation. Various other organisations directly engaged in services to children with HIV, and other key stakeholders, will also attend.  

 The meeting aims to address bottlenecks that limit access to Early Infant Diagnostic products and programs, and to invent strategies that help quickly identify HIV-exposed children and link them to testing and treatment services. It will also provide an opportunity to assess progress on achieving the commitments made by participants in 2017.

 While the global community continues to make significant progress on scaling up access to adult HIV and AIDS testing and treatment services, more than 120,000 children die each year from AIDS-related causes, and over 13,000 children are newly infected each month.

 Participants in the meeting will agree to a plan of action to introduce and scale-up optimised diagnostics and case-finding strategies for HIV. They will also agree to plans to intensify commitments in key challenging areas, including formulations development, and regulatory approval of optimal formulations and diagnostic products.

 Caritas Internationalis has taken strong responsibilities and commitments over mobilising their network. They work with communities to help build treatment literacy and expand access to antitretroviral drugs among children, and raise awareness about the unmet diagnostic and treatment requirements of children with HIV.

 Caritas members recently confirmed the importance of working at a global and national level for the wellbeing of children living with HIV. At the meeting, they will reportedly reaffirm their commitment and pledge to expand their efforts to help diagnose and treat those children.