• Optimization of antiretroviral therapy has since started.
• 98.5 percent of the 1,229,781 e receiving ARVs are now receiving the newer, safer, easier to take and more efficacious drugs.
• About 6,000 individuals are still taking an old ARV drug called Zidovudine
Ministry of Health says there is no shortage of Anti-Retroviral drugs (ARVs) in Zambia.
In a statement, Ministry’s Permanent Secretary for Technical Services Professor Lackson Kasonka, said optimization of antiretroviral therapy has since started, in a quest to provide safer and more efficacious drugs.
Professor Kasonka explained that 98.5 percent of the 1,229,781 people receiving ARVs are now receiving the newer, safer, easier to take and more efficacious drugs.
“To this effect, 98.5 per cent of the 1,229,781 receiving ARVs are now receiving the newer, safer, easier to take and more efficacious dolutegravir containing ARV combinations called Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/ Lamivudine/ Dolutegravir commonly referred to as TLD or Tenofovir alafenamide / Emtricitabine/ Dolutegravir commonly referred to as TAFED. These drugs are fixed into a tablet and given as one tablet per day.”
“These newer combinations were introduced in Zambia in 2018 and have since led to over 96% of Zambian People Living with HIV receiving ARVs to have the virus suppressed resulting in a healthier and more productive population,” Professor Kasonka explained.
He however said about 6,000 individuals are still taking an old ARV drug called Zidovudine which the Ministry has been transitioning from TAFED.
Professor Kasonka added that due to its poor side effect profile, the drug has faced increasing low demand worldwide, disturbing its global supply chain and leading to its erratic supply in the last two years, which has affected Zambia as well.
“To this effect, the Ministry of Health in consultation with the Civil Society Organizations representing People Living with HIV and implementing partners has made a decision to accelerate the transition of individuals on this drug to better, safer and easier-to-take ARVs.”
“Government remains committed to ensuring people living with HIV in Zambia have adequate access to quality and efficacious anti-retroviral drugs, for a longer healthier life,” he said.
Professor Kasonka urged health workers to fast-track the transition from Zidovudine-containing ARV combinations to TLD or TAFED in view of new developments, based on scientific evidence generated from the African continent including Zambia.
“A further reminder is given to dispense a six-month supply of anti-retroviral drugs as per standard guidance.”