ARVs: Three drugs in one dose from next April

2012-11-30 00:00

FROM April next year all HIV-positive patients, who start HIV treatment in government clinics and hospitals, will only have to take one pill a day, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced.

Motsoaledi said that the government has procured antiretrovirals in fixed-dose combinations — meaning a combination of three drugs in one — as part of the new 10-year ARV tender that comes into effect in April.

While all new patients would be recommended to take the fixed-dose combination, Motsoaledi said that the decision would lie with the clinicians.

Motsoaledi said: “Our duty was to provide policy, the clinicians are the experts and will decide on the criteria.

“Experts tell us that fixed-dose combinations are convenient for patients and healthcare workers and also increase adherence.”

Dr Francesca Conradie, president of the Clinicians Society, agreed.

“Studies have shown that the rate of adherence is much higher when people are taking one pill instead of three a day,” Conradie said.

As part of the new HIV-treatment guidelines that would also come into effect with the new ARV tender, all pregnant HIV-positive women in South Africa would have to start HIV treatment irrespective of their CD4 count.

They will also receive the new fixed-dose combination and will have to take it as long as they breastfeed.

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