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A New Way to Improve Viral Load Suppression in HIV+ Children?

A New Way to Improve Viral Load Suppression in HIV+ Children?

<p>A New Way to Improve Viral Load Suppression in HIV+ Children?</p>
Photo by Lagos Food Bank Initiative

Photo by Lagos Food Bank Initiative

Studies in Uganda reveal the unique challenges presented to children with HIV.

Recent findings presented at the INTEREST 2023 conference in Maputo, Mozambique, shed light on the challenges faced by children living with HIV in achieving sustained viral load suppression.

According to AIDSMap, the studies highlighted the impact of caregiver age, caregiver viral suppression status, and treatment regimens on the likelihood of viral suppression among children. However, two studies conducted in Uganda provided insights into effective approaches to address these challenges.

Dr Patrick Oyaro of LVCT Health shared the results of a study conducted in Kenya, which aimed to identify factors predicting viral suppression in children up to the age of 14 living with HIV. The study included data from 668 children who had been on antiretroviral therapy (ART) for a median duration of six years. It revealed that children over the age of six were more likely to achieve sustained viral suppression compared to younger children.

To address these challenges, a Ugandan study implemented a mixed methods approach at urban and rural hospitals in central Uganda. Caregivers of unsuppressed children were paired with caregivers of suppressed children within a two-kilometer radius. The intervention resulted in 46 out of 49 children achieving viral suppression, indicating the effectiveness of peer support and mentorship in improving treatment outcomes.

Another study conducted in Northern Uganda focused on community delivery of ART to children under the age of 14. Community health workers and counselors provided intensified adherence counseling, and home visits were conducted when community visits were missed. The study demonstrated a significant improvement in viral load suppression, reaching 94% by December 2022.

These Ugandan studies underscore the importance of community models of care involving peers in achieving viral load suppression among children living with HIV. These findings emphasize the need for continued investment in comprehensive care models that prioritize community involvement and peer support to address the unique challenges faced by children living with HIV.

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