Following the succssful roll out a generic version of the latest AIDS drug called Dolutegravir (DTG) already recording success in Kenya, Nigerians living with HIV will soon heave a new sigh of relief as UNIAID, a global health initiative working with partners to end tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria epidemic,
UNIAID said a generic version of DTG, first approved in the US in 2013, is being given to 20,000 patients in Kenya before being rolled out in Nigeria and Uganda later in the year.
DTG is the drug of choice for people with HIV in high-income countries who have never taken antiretroviral therapy before and for those who have developed resistance to other treatment
Nigeria is the second largest country with people living with HIV epidemic in the world, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) and the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA). HIV/AIDS in the country currently affect no fewer than 3.2 million people.
The Federal Government implemented new guidelines for HIV prevention, treatment and care to consolidate previous efforts in tackling the scourge, Isaac Adewole, minister of health, recently stated at the opening of a two-day North-West Zonal Dissemination of 2016 National Guidelines for HIV prevention, Treatment and Care in Kaduna.
“With the 2016 guidelines, things would be better, as there were already 860,000 patients on anti-retro-viral treatment (ART) in some 1,000 comprehensive HIV treatment centres.
“I had constant nightmares and no appetite,” said Nairobi resident Doughtiest Ogutu, who started taking the drug this year because of her resistance to other treatments. “My appetite has come back… My body is working well with it.”
Ogutu, who has been living with HIV for 15 years, said her viral load – the amount of HIV in her blood – had fallen tenfold from 450,000 to 40,000 since she started on DTG.
Sub-Saharan Africa has been at the epicentre of the HIV epidemic for decades and home to nearly three quarters of all people with HIV/AIDS. UNIAIDS aims for 90 percent of people diagnosed with HIV to receive antiretroviral treatment by 2020.
The brand name version of DTG is Tivicay, produced by ViiV Healthcare, which is majority-owned by GlaxoSmithKline.
Sylvia Ojoo, Kenya country director for the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine, who is monitoring the introduction of DTG said, about 15 per cent of HIV patients are resistant, which means the medicines do not work on them,
UNIAID works to bring medicines to market quickly and to reduce manufacturing costs by allowing generic companies to access patents for a small royalty and produce them cheaply for the developing world.