Uganda will be among the first three African countries to start using the generic version of the latest AIDS drug that can improve and prolong the lives of people who suffer severe side effects and resistance to other treatments, health agency, UNITAID has said.
Uganda will follow her neighbour Kenya and Nigeria, with UNITAID saying 20,000 Kenyan patients have already started using the drug- a generic of Dolutegravir (DTG), first approved in the United States in 2013.
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.
The brand name version of DTG is Tivicay, produced by ViiV Healthcare, which is majority-owned by GlaxoSmithKline.
UNITAID works to bring medicines to market quickly and to reduce manufacturing costs by allowing generic companies to access patents for a small royalty and produce them cheaply for the developing world.
Available national data indicates in the year 2015, an estimated 1.5 million people in Uganda were living with HIV, while an estimated 28,000 died of AIDS-related illnesses. As of 2015, the estimated HIV prevalence among adults in Uganda (aged 15 to 49) stood at 7.1%
The number of new HIV infections in Uganda increased by 21% between 2005 and 2013. However, according to official government health records, infections are now reducing and fell from 140,000 in 2013 to 83,000 in 2015 The number of AIDS-related deaths decreased by an estimated 19% over the same period.6
Robust treatment and prevention initiatives have been implemented in recent years, leading to improved conditions for people living with HIV. Due to the implementation of antiretroviral treatment throughout the country there has been a gradual increase in the number of people living with HIV receiving treatment.
In 2013, Uganda reached a tipping point whereby the number of new infections per year was less than the number of people beginning to receive antiretroviral treatment.
However, as of 2015 around 40% of adults living with HIV were still not on treatment. Persistent disparities remain around who is accessing treatment and many people living with HIV experience stigma and discrimination.
UNAIDS claims Sub-Saharan Africa has been at the epicenter of the HIV epidemic for decades and home to nearly three quarters of all people with HIV/AIDS. The agency aims for 90 percent of people diagnosed with HIV to receive antiretroviral treatment by 2020.