Although the reduction in HIV-1-related deaths with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is similar in adults and children, the extent of the changes in two important surrogate markers HIV-1 RNA levels and CD4+ T cell counts, differs widely. In most paediatric studies virological response rates to HAART are inferior to those in adults. This review provides an overview of the paediatric clinical studies using HAART and seeks to improve the understanding of factors that may contribute to success or failure of HAART in children. An overview of all current articles on paediatric clinical trials using HAART is provided. 23 papers were available. HIV-1 RNA loads and CD4+ T cell counts were used as primary outcome measures. Virological response rates were highly variable, both among the different antiretroviral drugs but also among different studies using the same medication. Four studies in which dosages of the administrated protease inhibitor (PI) were adjusted after pharmacokinetic evaluation had superior virological response rates compared with those in which fixed dosages were used. Immunological response rates were more uniform than virological responses. In almost all studies increases of CD4+ T cell counts are reported independent of the extent of the virological response. Side-effects of HAART were generally mild, transient, and of gastrointestinal origin. Significant percentages of patients with serum lipid abnormalities were reported in three paediatric studies. However, signs of clinical lipodystrophy were not observed. The inferior virological response rates, which have been reported in HIV-1 infected children treated with HAART form a reflection of the challenges that are encountered in the treatment of these children. Difficulties with adherence and with the pharmacokinetics of PIs in children require an intensive, child-adjusted approach. A practical approach to therapy in institutions without tertiary care facilities may be induction therapy with a lopinavir containing regimen (lacking a need for therapeutic drug monitoring), to reduce high viral load levels followed by an easily tolerated maintenance regimen, for example containing abacavir or nevirapine.

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Journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases
van Rossum, A.M.C, Fraaij, P.L.A, & de Groot, R. (2002). Efficacy of highly active antiretroviral therapy in HIV-1 infected children. The Lancet Infectious Diseases (Vol. 2, pp. 93–102). doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(02)00183-4