amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

TREAT Asia Confronts AIDS Among Children

February 2007—TREAT Asia’s new Pediatrics Initiative took major steps at a November meeting toward forging a regional network and setting up a pediatric observational database. Consisting of 35 clinics that operate on the front lines of pediatric AIDS treatment and research in Asia, the Pediatrics Initiative involves sites in Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

Kids Laugh 

Children receive antiretroviral treatment as well as other services from Thailand's Baan Gerda Orphanage.

Kids at Table 

AIDS orphans at the Baan Gerda Orphanage in Thailand.

Frost with Kid 

TREAT Asia director Kevin Frost with a young resident of Baan Gerda.

Nun with Kids 

TREAT Asia staff member Apinun Sreengam at the orphanage.

TREAT Asia is also working with a group of HIV-positive Cambodian women on a program that addresses health and treatment issues, including the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission. With 90 percent of HIV infections among children in the Asia-Pacific region the result of transmission during childbirth, educational programs that reach out to women are a linchpin of efforts to stem the rise of pediatric HIV.

On January 2, TREAT Asia staff members visited with AIDS orphans at the Baan Gerda Orphanage in Lopburi, Thailand. Baan Gerda, which was established six years ago, is home to 72 HIV-positive children whose parents died of AIDS or abandoned them. The orphanage offers shelter, medical care, and other forms of support for the children, who study at a nearby school along with local children. All of the Baan Gerda orphans receive antiretroviral medication, and to maintain their treatment the institution relies heavily on doctors from HIV-NAT in Bangkok, which is a participating member of the TREAT Asia Network. 

The challenges of treating HIV-positive children are particularly complex. “Children need antiretroviral regimens that can last a lifetime,” noted Dr. Annette Sohn, a new member of the TREAT Asia Steering Committee representing the pediatric sites. “Their situation is very different from those who acquire their infections as adults.”