Caritas calls for development of child-friendly AIDS drugs

 Caritas International has issued a call to pharmaceutical companies to develop affordable drugs specifically for children with HIV/AIDS, many of whom die before their second birthday.

Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, president of Caritas Internationalis, said that while a third of HIV-positive adults in the world have access to antiretroviral drugs so they can live longer, "only 15 percent of children living with HIV get these essential drugs. Many die before their second birthday."

He said: "Pharmaceutical companies and governments must show leadership by developing child-friendly medicine for HIV and improving testing." Cardinal Rodriguez said children will be the focus of the 162 Caritas members in 2009.

Caritas and other Catholic organisations provide around a quarter of medical AIDS relief in Africa.

Children under the age of 15 accounted for 2.1 million of the 33.2 million people living with HIV in 2007, according to a joint report by the World Health Organisation and several other UN agencies published in April. Of these children, 90 percent lived in sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2007, an estimated 420,000 children were infected with the virus globally and 290,000 died of AIDS, according to the report.

Source: Caritas

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