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Women can enroll on new ARV combination drug- Health Ministry

HIV/AIDS

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Health is to enroll women to the newly introduced HIV/AIDS combination therapy treatment by of October.The government last year rolled out a new and more effective combination drug- treatment tenofovir-lamivudine-dolutegravir commonly known as TLD but women living with HIV were excluded from accessing it. Women in child-bearing aged had been excluded from taking the drug for fear of likely side effects like  birth defects such as Spina Bifida.

But the Ministry according to the AIDs Control Programme Manager, Dr. Joshua Musinguzi is the process of notifying the National ART committee about the new guideline by the World Health Organisation.

The WHO this week said that tenofovir-lamivudine-dolutegravir or TLD can be used as the preferred first line drug for all including pregnant and women of child-bearing potential.

He said he has already informed senior management at the Ministry and is now awaiting an agenda from it on how to proceed with the national adaptation process.

He says the plan is to have the old stocks that had been planned for and available to be used up so that they don’t have drugs expiring in stores because of the new change.

The guidelines once approved by the National ART Committee, will eventually have women enrolled on TLD. The three combination drug therapy has featured on WHO’s HIV consolidated ARV guidelines since 2016.

Ministry of Health figures show that by end of June, 400,000 out of the 520,000 people living with HIV had been initiated on TLD.

The plan according to Musinguzi is to have all the 1.2million Ugandans eligible for this treatment enrolled.

Already he said WHO is recommending for children of 25 kgs and above to be enrolled on the drug too.

Uganda’s ARV drug manufacturer- Cipla Quality Chemicals started manufacturing the drug last year.

Uganda, like the other 91 countries in low income countries that are just embracing TLD have access to the cheaper generic version produced by India-based drug makers – Mylan Laboratories (MYL.O) and Aurobindo Pharma (ARBN.NS).

It was made after a deal was struck by the pharmaceuticals to cap prices of the doses at $75 per patient per year to make the drug cheap such that poor countries can access it.

TLD or tenofovir-lamivudine-dolutegravir is also more tolerable, with fewer side effects.

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