Researchers Found That Dolutegravir is Easier For Children With HIV to Take

Researchers From University College London have found that an affordable low-cost drug that is easy to administer works better at suppressing HIV in children than other medications. The researchers published their findings in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dolutegravir-based regimens are commonly used for adults. They lower the likelihood of treatment failing by 40% in children between 3 and 18.

How researchers conducted the study

The team conducted a series of randomized trials, which they named ODYSSEY. They gathered 700 children from clinical centers in Asia, Europe, and Africa. They then randomly gave them dolutegravir and other HIV medication and followed up on their progress for around two years.

The team found that about 14% of the children who took dolutegravir developed treatment failure in two years. This number was lower than the 22% who were on standard medication. Treatment failure is when the patient has measurable levels of the virus in their blood or develops symptoms due to poor immunity. This failure is due to patients not adhering to treatment or not taking their medication.

From the findings, the team informed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) new guidance on giving children dolutegravir-based therapies.

According to a lead investigator on ODYSSEY, Professor Diana Gibb, the study supports administering dolutegravir to HIV-infected children. These findings come at a good time since medical therapies for children are often made after adults since different studies and formulations are required.

Children are more likely to adhere to dolutegravir

Because of ODYSSEY, which used simple dosing, the researchers reduced the time-lapse. The team hopes that more countries can now provide the drug to children with HIV.

Dr. Anna Turkova, another lead author, adds that while about 1.8 million children give, their treatment options are few. The reason is that their medication is often unpalatable, administered twice a day, or includes a large pill that they find hard to swallow.

Turkova adds that dolutegravir is easier to administer to children as it comes in small pills given one daily. Moreover, caregivers can disperse baby pills in the water thus, enabling younger children to take them.

Dr. Turkova adds that the ease in taking the drug is vital as it encourages children to receive and adhere to treatment. Currently, about 59% of HIV-infected children receive treatment. Those who don’t will likely develop poor immunity and health.

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