The Ministry of Health and Child Care is working on a programme to roll out a new antiretroviral drug, Dolutegravir, which is more effective in viral suppression and has fewer side effects.
In a statement, the deputy director of HIV/Aids and STIs in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Tsitsi Apollo, said the drug works by reducing the ability of the HIV virus to make copies of itself. Dr Apollo said compared to other ARVs, Dolutegravir is safer although caution is required when taken by women of child bearing age. Said Dr Apollo:
Dolutegravir (DTG) is an antiretroviral drug used to treat HIV infection and is more tolerable to patients, meaning it has lesser side effects compared to other ARVs. It is used as part of combination therapy for the treatment of HIV and works by reducing the ability of the virus to make copies of itself. In May this year DTG will be first offered to newly diagnosed clients and by August 2019, existing clients already on ART will be offered DTG containing regimens. If the virus is not multiplying, there is less chances of the patient falling ill and therefore less likely to transmit the virus to others. In addition to rapid viral suppression, DTG also has higher genetic barrier, an inherently better ability to prevent the virus from being resistant to the drug compared to other ARVs
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