Uganda: New UNAIDS Boss Byanyima Urged to Reduce Prices of Arvs

Kampala — People living with HIV/Aids in Uganda have asked Ms Winnie Byanyima, the new executive director of the United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS), to advocate for reduction of the price of third line Antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs.

Third line ARV therapy is taken by people with intolerance to first line and second line drugs.

Ms Stella Kentutsi, the executive director of the National Forum of Persons Living with HIV/Aids Networks in Uganda (NAFOPHANU), said while government provides them in public health facilities, most times they are not readily available.

"In order for government to provide these expensive drugs to people living with HIV, she [Ms Byanyima] needs to use her office to negotiate with manufacturers to make these drugs much cheaper for government and individuals to buy," Ms Kentutsi said during a press conference at NAFOPHANU offices in Kampala yesterday.

She said many people living with HIV/Aids cannot afford the Shs800,000 required to buy the third line ARV drugs every month as per the dosage.

The people living with HIV/Aids said Ms Byanyima is the right person who will enable the elimination of HIV/Aids in the world by 2030.

"As a movement of people living with HIV, we are joining the campaign of eliminating Aids and nobody is better placed to land us in to that generation than Winnie Byanyima... this time she is going to land us in a space where there is no Aids," Ms Milly Katana, a member of NAFOPHANU, said.

According to the Ministry of Health, at least 1,000 persons living with HIV are on third line ARVs.

Ms Byanyima is taking over at UNAIDS from Michel Sidibé who stepped down in May following accusations of "serious mismanagement". Mr Sidibé was also accused of creating "a patriarchal culture tolerating abuse of authority".

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