Government has introduced a new antiretroviral HIV drug called Tenofovir Alafenamide, which reduces the viral load within 10 to 14 days, says Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya.
And Dr Chilufya says Zambia is the first country in the developing world to use this medicine, adding that patients have already been enrolled on the new drug.
Meanwhile, Dr Chilufya said government is also in the process of introducing another drug called Tafad, which does not cause kidney injuries and lead to bone mineral loss, among other advantages.
Dr Chilufya said this in Parliament, Tuesday, when he rendered a ministerial statement to the House.
“I want to update the nation through this August House on the introduction of a new antiretroviral drug in the country called Tenofovir Alafenamide for the treatment of HIV/AIDS in Zambia. The Ministry of Health implemented a five year National Strategic Plan based on the World Health Organization fiscal component for building blocks of a health system. Madam Speaker, currently, there are 1,224,017 people living with HIV in Zambia and out of these, government has managed to enroll 1,094,253 individuals on ART, meaning 89 per cent. Madam Speaker, 89 per cent of these people know their HIV status and out of these, 91 per cent are taking life-saving ARVs, and among these, Madam Speaker, 89 per cent have attained viral load suppression. This is a demonstration that Zambia is on track to attain epidemic control of HIV/AIDS,” Dr Chilufya said.
He explained that the new drug reduced the viral load within 10 to 14 days compared to other ARVs, which usually took six months and beyond.
“Through the HIV national programme, Zambia has now introduced a new drug that is better tolerated, and this drug, Madam Speaker, is known as Tenofovir Alafenamide. This drug, Madam Speaker, has many advantages; [but] key is the fact that it will reduce the viral load within 10 to 14 days compared to other ARVs, which will take six months and beyond,” Dr Chilufya added.
He further said that government was in the process of introducing another drug called Tafad, which did not cause kidney injuries and nor lead to bone mineral loss, among other advantages.
“Madam Speaker, on 27th June, 2019, we begun enrolling Zambian patients on this new drug and Zambia is the first country in the developing world to use this medicine. In addition to this, we are introducing another drug called TAF, which is combined with Emtricitabine and Dolitographer, which is called Tafad. Again this drug has the following advantages: it does not cause kidney injuries as seen in many other drugs; it does not lead to bone mineral loss; it is available in combination with other drugs; it reduces viral loads within 10 to 14 days; the dolitographer component is less likely to lead to the development of drug resistance. And Tafad in addition to being given to adults can [also] be given to children with the weight of 25Kg or more. Therefore, children can also have the benefit of having one tablet, once per day for HIV treatment,” Dr Chilufya said.
And Dr Chilufya said Zambia had an adequate stock of ARVs to last for the next three years.
“Madam Speaker, may I assure the nation that we have adequate stocks of antiretroviral in the country and we have commodity security of up to three years. All people who test for HIV are given antiretroviral drugs free of charge and commenced on the same day. And once started on antiretroviral drugs, the patients will attain viral load suppression within 10 to 14 days and will not transmit to the next client or to their child from mother to child. This is, therefore, an opportunity for Zambia to firmly attain epidemic control of HIV AIDS. I appeal to members of parliament to sensitize their constituents to ensure that they all test for HIV, and those who are positive to enroll for ART as HIV is no longer a death sentence,” said Dr Chilufya.