NGOs welcome new HIV drug combination

2020-01-15 06:01

POSITIVE strides have been made in the fight against HIV transmission in South Africa, however education on the spread of the virus remains the main concerning factor to the national government.

Despite attempts made to combat the spread of HIV, there are more than four million people on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment in SA.

According to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, the number of people on ARVs in SA has grown from 45 500 in 2004 to over 4,7 million in 2019.

In making new strides in the fight against HIV/Aids infection, the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, launched a new three-in-one pill last month.

The new formula will replace Efavirenz — one of the three components of current ARVs — and be integrated with Tenofovir and Lamivu­dine. The new combo will be known as Tenof­ovir­, Lamivudine and Dolutegravir (TLD).

The new drug is expected to be rolled out in all healthcare facilities nationwide in March.

The general manager of the Umvoti Aids Centre, Sithuthukile Mchunu, welcomed the initiative by national government, saying: “We welcome the new combination [of drugs] considering the [high] statistics of people living with HIV. As Umvoti Aids Centre we really support the improvements made [in the fight against HIV infection]. If the viral load would be suppressed immensely, and the immune system could fight off the virus, we are happy because this would probably encourage people to take their medication.”

Mchunu believes that the introduction of the new drug will assist in the strict adherence to an HIV regimen and reduce the risk of drug resistance.

“We are very happy with the use of ARVs in HIV prevention in cases of mother-to child infection.

“We hope there are no [underlying] effects [in the new drug] and that it will make positive strides [in the fight against HIV],” Mchunu added.

The chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, said in a statement that the initiative shows the commitment of the South African government in the fight against HIV and Aids. He added: “But the government cannot do it alone — South Africans are encouraged to join in this global endeavour in support of the government because collaboration is essential if we are to achieve this common objective.”

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