, Volume 79, Issue 12, pp 1625-1633
Date: 27 Nov 2012

Antiretroviral Therapy in Children: Recent Advances

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Abstract

Availability and successful use of various antiretroviral drugs has transformed HIV/AIDS from an incurable to a treatable chronic condition. The antiretroviral therapy can successfully suppress viral replication and preserve the immune system for many years. The implementation of antiretroviral therapy program in resource limited settings using the ‘public health approach’ of the World Health Organization has had a dramatic impact on the lives of millions of HIV infected individuals. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) in children has many challenges: use of appropriate formulations, regular need for modification of doses as the child grows, adherence issues, etc. To reduce the high morbidity and mortality in HIV infected children, it is currently recommended that all HIV infected children less than 24 mo should receive ART; in older children the indications are based on clinical and/or immunological criteria. Highly active antiretroviral therapy regimens include at least 3 antiretroviral drugs. The first line therapy recommended for children is a combination of two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor. Infants who have had exposure to nevirapine should receive a combination of two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and a protease inhibitor; the protease inhibitor of choice is ritonavir boosted lopinavir. The success of therapy is dependent on >95 % adherence. The second line regimen, used when the first line therapy fails, is based on a protease inhibitor. The ongoing research focuses on simplification of regimen, discovery of more potent drugs, availability of more pediatric formulations, treatment of drug resistant strains etc. The optimal indications for initiation of therapy in children, are also being studied.