Trends in Antiretroviral Therapy Eligibility and Coverage Among Children Aged <15 Years with HIV Infection - 20 PEPFAR-Supported Sub-Saharan African Countries, 2012-2016.
Rapid disease progression and associated opportunistic infections contribute to high mortality rates among children aged <15 years with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection (1). Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has decreased childhood HIV-associated morbidity and mortality rates over the past decade (2). As accumulating evidence revealed lower HIV-associated mortality with early ART initiation, the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines broadened ART eligibility for children with HIV infection (2). Age at ART initiation for children with HIV infection expanded sequentially in the 2010, 2013, and 2016 WHO guidelines to include children aged <2, <5, and <15 years, respectively, regardless of clinical or immunologic status (3-5). The United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has supported ART for children with HIV infection since 2003 and, informed by the WHO guidelines and a growing evidence base, PEPFAR-supported countries have adjusted their national pediatric guidelines. To understand the lag between guideline development and implementation, as well as the ART coverage gap, CDC assessed national pediatric HIV guidelines and analyzed Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; UNAIDS) data on children aged <15 years with HIV infection and the numbers of these children on ART. Timeliness of WHO pediatric ART guideline adoption varied by country; >50% of children with HIV infection are not receiving ART, underscoring the importance of strengthening case finding and linkage to HIV treatment in pediatric ART programs.