Dar es Salaam — Tanzania has started using Dolutegravir 'DGT', the new and most effective drug in suppressing HIV/Aids in the human body.
It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system. Tanzania is now among 82 countries with low and middle incomes to start treating HIV/Aids using the 'DTG' drug.
Deputy Health minister Dr Faustine Ndugulile told The Citizen that the use of the drug has demonstrated positive changes.
According to the deputy minister, the DTG medicine is used with a mix of drugs namely, Tenofovir 300mg/, lamivudine 300mg/ and dolutegravir 50mg (in short TLD).
"Dolutegravir is a new medicine that has now started to be used in the country instead of the previous one called Efavirenz. Let it be remembered that TLD is a mix of three drugs namely, Tenofovir 300mg/, lamivudine 300mg/ and dolutegravir 50mg. So, D stands for Dolutegravir," said Dr Ndugulile.
He said the DTG medicine is the most effective in suppressing HIV/Aids infections. However, he warned that HIV/Aids patients are advised not to stop using antiretroviral drugs and protective gear against HIV/Aids. "For us in Tanzania the use of this new medicine started in March, this year. However, we advise patients not to stop using antiretroviral drugs and protective gear even if they have suppressed HIV/Aids," said the deputy minister.
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Dr Ndugulile gave the warning following reports that if an HIV/Aids patient starts using the new drug, the viruses of the disease will completely not be found in the body and that the patient will not infect his/her partner even having sex without a protective gear.
Different medical experts have told The Citizen that the newly introduced drug has the capability of suppressing HIV/Aids quickly, but have warned that does not mean a person who does not use a protective gear during sex will not be infected.
A medical expert from the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), Nelson Masotta, said previously the drug that was being used was called TLE.
"This is a mix of three drugs namely, Tenofovir, Lamivudine and Efavirenz, in short TLE. However, 'Efavirenz' has been found to have some side effects for quite some time now," said Masotta.
He said due to deficiencies in Efavirenz that bothered some patients in their treatment, another medicine was recommended.
"In the search for the most effective medicine, it was seen that 'Dolutegravir' can also be mixed with two aforementioned drugs and bring about positive results in treatment." Masotta said Dolutegravir was being used in the countries, especially developed ones, but, he added, it was new in the country. "So, for now a mix is of 'Tenofovir+Lamivudine+Dolutegravir' TLD."