Kenya is the first African country to start using a generic version of the latest AIDS drug that can improve and prolong the lives of tens of thousands of people who suffer severe side effects and resistance to other treatments.
A generic version of Dolutegravir (DTG), first approved in the United States in 2013, is being given to 20,000 patients in Kenya before being rolled out in Nigeria and Uganda later this year, with the backing of the health agency, UNITAID.
DTG is the drug of choice for people with HIV in high-income countries who have never taken antiretroviral therapy before and for those who have developed resistance to other treatment.
“I had constant nightmares and no appetite,” said Nairobi resident Doughtiest Ogutu, who started taking the drug this year because of her resistance to other treatments. “My appetite has come back… My body is working well with it.”
Ogutu, who has been living with HIV for 15 years, said her viral load – the amount of HIV in her blood – has fallen tenfold from 450,000 to 40,000 since she started on DTG.
Sub-Saharan Africa has been at the epicentre of the HIV epidemic for decades and home to nearly three-quarters of all people with HIV/AIDS.
UNAIDS aims for 90 percent of people diagnosed with HIV to receive antiretroviral treatment by 2020.
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