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Study: Directly observed HIV therapy for children is promising

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] -- Directly observed antiretroviral therapy is a promising strategy to ensure that HIV-infected children in developing countries take life-saving medications, new research from The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University shows.

The study was conducted in collaboration with Maryknoll, the international Catholic charity that runs a program for AIDS orphans in Phnom Penh, Cambodias capital city. The study is the first to test the benefits of directly observed treatment in children living in developing countries. Findings are published in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Results of this study tell us that directly observed treatment for children with HIV is an important strategy to consider in resource-limited settings said David Pugatch, M.D., director of the pediatric and adolescent HIV program at Hasbro Childrens Hospital and an assistant professor of pediatrics at The Alpert Medical School.

With the cost of AIDS drugs dropping, antiretroviral treatments are increasingly becoming available in Asia, Africa and Latin America, Pugatch said, yet there is little evidence of what is the best way to deliver these drugs to children living in these countries. We found that directly observed therapy is an effective and economical way to go.

Without antiretroviral treatment, half of all HIV-infected children die by age 2. With therapy, however, many children survive to adulthood. Thats why the World Health Organization is calling for worldwide universal access to antiretroviral therapy by 2010.

But whats the best way to deliver these drugs to children in developing countries, places with often limited access to basic tests and trained professionals" Pugatch and his Brown colleagues, who have helped combat AIDS in Cambodia for years, decided to find out.

They evaluated the outcomes of HIV-infected children receiving directly observed therapy,
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Contact: Wendy Lawton
Wendy_Lawton@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
31-May-2007


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