- Written by Peace Loise Mbae
A recent study has revealed that children infected with HIV are dying early despite anti-retroviral therapy(ART) being availed for free raising concern over delayed diagnosis that may be the major problem.
The research by Lancet Health Journal says ART have not increased the chances of survival for hospitalized children with the study showing that most children are diagnosed when they fall sick and are admitted to hospitals showing lack of awareness in routine check ups for children as well.
“Many HIV-infected children in sub-Saharan Africa are frequently diagnosed during hospitalisation for an acute co-infection and experience high early mortality,” it stated.
The study has says HIV infected children who are under ART might not recover as the drug inhibit immune regeneration.
The study was conducted in four hospitals in Kenya – Kenyatta National Hospital and Mbagathi District Hospital in Nairobi and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital and Kisumu County Hospital in Nyanza between April 2013 and November 2015.
The research was carried out on 191 HIV-infected children between the age of 0-12 years.
From the research 181 children were enrolled randomly, 90 to urgent ART treatment within 48 hours and 91 to post-stabilisation ART within 7-14 days of enrollment.
21 percent of these children died within the first 3 months, 10 within the first week and 13 per cent died in the urgent ART group and 7 per cent in the post group.
“Most of these deaths occurred within the first month and significantly dropped towards the second and third month. No deaths occurred after between 3 to 6 months upon ART initiation.
No deaths occurred between three months and six months after ART initiation.
“Overall it was observed that there was a high mortality rate in the first few weeks after ART initiation, with more than 80 percent of deaths occurring in the first month and all deaths occurring within three months,” said the study.
The study also revealed there is no survival benefit after speeding up ART therapy.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 1.6 million persons in Kenya are infected with HIV and only about one million are on ART.
Kenya has an estimated 71,034 new HIV infections among adults and about 6,613 new infections among children annually.
Approximately 120, 000 children in Kenya are living with HIV while only 78, 700 children (65 percent) are accessing anti-retroviral treatment.
In 2016, about 4, 800 children died due to HIV/AIDS.