HIV Treatment From Kenya Offers Hope

First Posted: Jun 29, 2017 06:46 AM EDT

Kenya is the first African country to possibly introduce better HIV treatment for people living with the disease. Speaking at a news conference in Nairobi, Dr. Peter Kimuu of the Ministry of Health said that the first-line drug, which is known as Dolutegravir (DTG), has few side effects. He also said, "DTG offers better tolerability, fewer adverse drug reactions, fewer drug to drug interactions and higher genetic barrier to resistance."

One of the key partners of the development of DTG is UNITAID, a global health initiative that is working to end not only HIV and AIDS but tuberculosis and malaria as well. UNITAID is said to have donated 148,000 bottles of DTG to the Health Ministry, which covers about 1 percent of the patients living with HIV in Kenya.

VOA also quoted UNITAID director of operations Robert Matiru saying that bringing a cheap but highly effective product yields better treatment outcomes. Kenya's Health Ministry said that about 1.5 million people are living with HIV, and the introduction of the generic DTG will be part of the arsenal to fight the disease.

After the release of the drug in Kenya, it is expected that it will be introduced in Nigeria and Uganda later in the year. According to ABC News, the move is part of the efforts made to make the drugs more accessible in impoverished countries. Drugs that are usually accessible in developed countries take at least as long as a decade to be available in lower-income economies.

The region most affected with HIV has been identified by the World Health Organization as the sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to two-thirds of the world's population living with HIV. A rough estimate puts the numbers at 25 million people living with HIV in the sub-Saharan region -- 1.5 million of whom live in Kenya.

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