Monday, June 1, 2020

Botswana could soon switch to long lasting injectable HIV/AIDS drug

Following the successful clinical trial of a long-lasting injectable antiretroviral drug in Botswana, patients unable to adhere to daily oral pills may soon be able to change to the monthly injection. Over the past months, Botswana was part of many other countries selected to test the injectable drug known as Cabotegravir, and recently researchers announced that the injectable drug is just as effective as daily pills in preventing HIV from replicating.

The news would be a welcome development to Batswana patients who are unable to adhere to the daily oral pills which require them to sometimes take three or more pills every day.

Researchers from Uganda state that the injectable drug as a standard treatment for HIV is in line with the United Nations goal to reduce HIV transmission by 90 per cent in the next ten years.The injectable drug remains in the body’s tissues and leaches out over weeks.

Amongst other things, the researchers state that the drug ensuresthat HIV is kept in check as effectively as pills and over 80 per cent of people who participated in the research favoured the monthly regimen.Although daily doses of preventive therapy using existing antiretrovirals, called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), is effective ÔÇösome health experts indicated that it has poor adherence mainly because individuals sometimes skip the medication.

Botswana’s national HIV prevalence rate is estimated at 18.5 percent, and the country is also ranked third highest country globally after Swaziland and Lesotho. The national HIV incidence rate is about 1.35 percent and new HIV infections are estimated to be fluctuating between 10,000 and 14,000 per annum.

Although Botswana is the first country in the region to provide universal free antiretroviral treatment to people living with HIV, it is still one of the countries most burdened by HIV in the world. The success of the anti-retroviral treatment (ART) is being compromised by a low testing rate and low levels of HIV knowledge.

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Sunday Standard May 24 – 30

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of May 24 - 30, 2020.