On Wednesday, South Africa health officials announced that they are introducing a new advanced and affordable HIV drug in order to combat AIDS.
South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS.
The health officials said the new advanced anti-retroviral drug is the best and fastest way to reduce HIV viral load. They also said that they would be rolling out the new drug, called TLD, on December 1, which is marked as the World AIDS Day.
South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize revealed the new drug at an event in southwestern KwaZulu-Natal, the coastal province with the highest prevalence, where over a quarter of the population has been infected with HIV.
The new HIV pill is a combination of three drugs tenofovir, lamivudine, and dolutegravir, which is developed under the financial backing of Unitaid, a global health initiative that works with partners to bring about innovations to prevent, diagnose and treat major diseases in low- and middle-income countries.
Robert Matiru, Director of Operations of Unitaid, said, “The new TLD drug is highly effective and has much more rapid viral suppression than the current treatment regime.”
“It has fewer side effects in general and is much more resilient… and also is even cheaper,” he added.
The new drug has a fixed-dose that is hoped to make it more affordable and easier for people suffering from HIV to start, as well as and stay, on the treatment.
The global health initiative said the price of the new HIV pill would start at $75 per person per year. It may drop lower afterward, helping more than five million people to save money.
Unitaid said, “South Africa accounts for more than 10 percent of all HIV-related deaths and 15 percent of new infections.” The country has been delivering anti-retroviral treatment to nearly five million people. However, it is estimated that nearly 8 million people in South Africa are living with HIV.