amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

First Regional Meeting on Pediatric AIDS in Southeast Asia Convened by TREAT Asia


October 2005—Despite the decline in AIDS-related mortality made possible by combination drug therapies, children with HIV/AIDS in developing countries are less likely to receive treatment than adults and they die from AIDS at a significantly higher rate. The reasons for this disparity range from the expense of pediatric AIDS drugs, which have a more limited market than adult versions and can therefore cost more than four times their price, to the lack of awareness of many health professionals about treatment protocols for children.

To help improve and expand treatment for children with HIV/AIDS in Asia—where only a small fraction of the 35,000 in need of medication are actually receiving it—TREAT Asia convened the first regional meeting on pediatric HIV/AIDS in Southeast Asia and China, 9–10 September in Bangkok. The meeting brought together health-care workers and interested parties representing more than 2,000 HIV-positive children from a dozen countries, including Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand, and Viet Nam. Representatives from major international aid organizations also attended, among them UNICEF, UNAIDS, WHO, USAID, Médecins Sans Frontières, Family Health International, and the Worldwide Orphans Foundation.

Because there are little outcomes data on children receiving treatment for HIV, the Bangkok meeting was conceived as a possible launching pad for a pediatric HIV/AIDS observational database modeled on TREAT Asia’s successful adult version. Detailed individual country presentations about the status of pediatric AIDS revealed different needs and standards of care across Southeast Asia. While more developed nations such as Thailand focused on data collection and sophisticated measurement standards, less developed countries pointed out that financial needs and basic patient care took precedence for them and they urged the creation of an informational and educational network.

Despite the different orientations of participating countries and organizations, the general consensus at the conclusion of the two-day meeting was uniformly in support of creating a pediatrics database. Participants also expressed strong interest in starting a collaborative regional network on pediatric HIV/AIDS. To that end, representatives from each country will meet in a smaller working group to assess the most appropriate objectives for the new network.