Single-dose HIV pill to be rolled out in April

2013-03-08 00:00

HIV-POSITIVE patients on medical treatment will breathe a sigh of relief next month when the government rolls out a new single-dose treatment.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, addressing students, academics and health officials at the launch of the 2013 “First Things First” campaign at Mangosuthu University of Technology in Durban, said the fixed dose combination tablet would be ready for roll-out by April 1.

The new treatment means that instead of taking three tablets three times a day, patients will take only one once a day, making their lives easier. The new pill is a combination of the three pills, has fewer side effects than the current treatment and will be cheaper to manufacture and obtain.

According to Health–e News, about 1,7 million people in South Africa are on anti-retroviral treatment (ARV). South Africa is the largest consumer of ARVs, accounting for 21% of global consumption of the drugs.

Health-e News reported that the tender for the tablet was valued at R5,9 billion over two years. It added: “The state sector currently treats 1,7 million patients with a goal to expand this to 2,5 million by the end of 2014. This new tender was initially expected to cost R8,1 billion based on the prices of the current tender. However, the Health Department was able to reduce the cost of the tender by 38%, which is a saving of R2,2 billion.”

Motsoaledi emphasised that the single-dose treatment was not a cure and that prevention was still the safest option.

The minister and the MEC for Health, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, took HIV tests at the voluntary testing sites set up on the fields of the university.

The First Things First campaign was launched in 2011 in conjunction with the Higher Dducation and Training Department at the University of Witwatersrand, testing about 22 000 students in the process.

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