Tanzania: Health Experts Trumpet Use of New Arv Drug

TREATMENT to HIV patients has recorded a tremendous milestone, with the new Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drug proving to be able to suppress viral load within six months, with fewer or no side effects at all.

The generic fixed-dose combination of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, lamivudine, and dolutegravir (TLD), which is now available in many public hospitals in the country, has been supplied at the Lake Zone based health facilities for the last six to seven months.

Clinical studies have demonstrated that treatment regimens with TLD result in more rapid suppression of viral load, fewer side effects, and greater potency against drug resistance than current regimens in use by patients.

"Timely suppression of viral loads is one of the surest ways of preventing opportunistic diseases, and the drug has proven highly efficient compared to others in use," said Dr Mohamed Mnyau.

Dr Mnyau was heading a panel of experts who conducted a workshop of about 150 health staff from Mwanza and Shinyanga regions that deliberated on the best practices to be observed while administering the drug to patients, among other technicalities.

He said with proper dosage, administration, and other precautions, patients have been reporting good development, adding that training health experts on how to take the drug was extremely important.

Similar trainings are conducted throughout the country, with those in the Lake Zone being provided by the National Aids Control Programme (NICP) and facilitated by the Ariel Glaser Pediatrics AIDS Healthcare Initiatives (AGPAHI).

One of the participants, a Clinical Officer from Kitungulu Health Center in Sengerema District, Shaban Malengwa said his center started giving out the new drug in September this year, and so far patients are very happy with it.

He said many patients have been reporting a positive trend compared to other ARVs that used to cause them different forms of discomfort, with other patients complaining of experiencing nightmares during the night when they took them.

Mr Malengwa thanked the government for making TLD available, suggesting for logistic arrangements for the drug to be supplied to dispensaries as well.

On his side, Mr Emillian Ng'wandu, a Program Officer and Pharmacist from AGPAHI, said supply of the drug has been maintained, and that by end of this year, over 100 health centers across the Lake Zone will start getting them as well.

Basically, he said the supply of the drug started at referral, followed by regional and district hospitals and some selected health centers, thanks to the timely supply by Medical Stores Department (MSD).

According to experts, patients with less than 50 viral loads cannot transmit HIV to another sex partner while other patients can carry up to 10,000 to 100,000 viral loads, making it extremely difficult to recover from the opportunistic diseases.

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