New ARV medication to be introduced in Namibia

16 Apr 2019 11:00am
WINDHOEK, 16 APR (NAMPA) – New Antiretroviral (ARV) medication will be introduced in Namibia later this year for children and adolescents living with HIV due to their increased resistance to current drugs and their side effects.
This was revealed during the launch of a new five-year cooperative agreement between the Ministry of Health and Social Services and the United States (US) Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
The agreement covers the period of April 2019 to March 2024.
Speaking at the launch here on Monday, CDC Country Director, Eric Dziuban explained that the new agreement would recognise and address the poor viral suppression in children and teenagers to avoid the introduction of a new pool of young adults who could rapidly spread the infection to others.
Dziuban told Nampa on the side-lines that research conducted by the health ministry and CDC found that due to its prolonged use in Namibia, Nevirapine, one of the medications currently used to treat HIV, no longer responds as effectively to the HIV in Namibians and it poses negative side effects in children and adolescents.
He said one of the key focus areas for children is to get them on the right medications as some are still on the older ARVs that are no longer the best available.
“We have already started, in the last month, to make targeted efforts in different regions, such as Omaheke and most recently Oshana,” he added.
The CDC country director said switching to the new medication, the children and adolescents will have less side effects and it will be easier for them and their caregivers to manage.
One of the new medications that will be introduced is Dolutegravir, which Dziuban said would be a “game changer” for Namibia as it is a strong drug which is easy to take and would lead to better outcomes for children and adults in terms of viral load suppression.