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The MRC Clinical Trials Unit at University College London has won the top research prize at the 2014 BMJ Awards for its trial treating HIV-positive babies and children in the Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The facility’s Antiretroviral Research for Watoto (ARROW) Trial Team aims to achieve universal coverage of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for young children with HIV from poor populations. More than 330,000 children worldwide were newly infected in 2011, and greater efforts to expand HIV treatment programs are essential, according to researchers from the unit. ART is lifesaving for children, and early diagnosis and treatment reduce mortality and HIV progression by 75%, but large and rigorous trials of pediatric HIV treatment are rare, they noted.
The judges believe that by addressing this neglected population, ARROW has greatly expanded knowledge base to improve treatment for children with HIV. They agree that uncertainties about treatment strategies and monitoring should not undermine efforts to strengthen rollout of ART for children. ARROW provides a clear demonstration that excellent clinical outcomes can be attained in children with HIV despite resource constraints that mar efforts to manage HIV in the settings most affected by this devastating epidemic, they stated.
The group published the following article about its work in NEJM on 2 January 2014: A Randomized Trial of Prolonged Co-trimoxazole in HIV-Infected Children in Africa, by Mutsawashe Bwakura-Dangarembizi et al (n engl j med 370;1).
Read the full release here.