A young girl visits a doctor in Cambodia.
A new global online paediatric HIV database created by the International AIDS Society’s (IAS) Collaborative Initiative for Paediatric HIV Education (CIPHER) is centralizing pediatric HIV cohorts worldwide into one database that features interactive comparative maps. The database, which includes the TREAT Asia Pediatric HIV Observational Database (TApHOD) cohort, aims to facilitate global collaboration to improve care for HIV-positive children and adolescents, who, due to gaps in research, often face disadvantages when it comes to accessing treatment and care designed to meet their health and developmental needs.
In 2012, just 34% of children under 15 in need of antiretroviral therapy globally were receiving it—about half the rate for adults. In Asia, the rate of access for children is 37%. “These differences are unacceptable, and we think the new CIPHER online database will contribute to a much better understanding of the complexities and the specificities of pediatric HIV by promoting collaboration and dialogue between researchers,” says Bernard Kadasia, acting executive director of the IAS.
Using a generous donation from ViiV Healthcare’s Paediatric Innovation Seed Fund, CIPHER is also offering US$500,000 in grants to support global cohorts research. Dr. Annette Sohn, director of TREAT Asia, has been actively involved in the development of CIPHER since its inception in 2012 and has participated in its Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee and its Research Grant and Database Working Groups.
The CIPHER database will focus on investigating two critical pediatric research areas where large data gaps remain: the durability of first-line antiretroviral therapy (ART) in children in resource-limited settings and better understanding the global epidemiology of adolescents living with HIV since birth. Second- and third-line treatments are often unavailable in low- and middle-income countries, so that young people who develop resistance to first-line therapy have little chance of surviving into adulthood. Overall, however, HIV-positive children worldwide are living much longer thanks to ART, though many questions remain regarding the characteristics of this growing population.
“CIPHER is providing invaluable assistance to move the pediatric HIV research agenda forward,” says Lynne M. Mofenson, M.D., chief of the Maternal and Pediatric Infectious Disease Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. “With increasing availability of treatment in resource-limited settings, there is a critical need to understand the durability of first-line therapy in children, as well as to get a better understanding regarding the infected children who are now surviving into adolescence and beyond.”