Kenya is the first African country to start using a new generic Aids drug that can improve and prolong the lives of people who suffer severe side effects and resistance to other treatments, the Reuters news agency reports.
Dolutegravir (DTG), which was first approved in the US in 2013, is being given to 20,000 patients in Kenya before being rolled out in Nigeria and Uganda later this year with the backing of global health initiative Unitaid.
Kenyan patient Doughtiest Ogutu, who started taking the drug earlier this year because of resistance to other treatments, says her appetite is back:
I had constant nightmares and no appetite. My appetite has come back… My body is working well with it.”
MsOgutu, who has been living with HIV for 15 years, said her viral load – the amount of HIV in her blood – has fallen tenfold from 450,000 to 40,000 since she started on DTG.
Unitaid is working to bring the drug to market quickly and to reduce manufacturing costs by allowing generic companies to access patents for a small royalty and produce them cheaply for the developing world.
About 1.5 million Kenyans are HIV positive, with more than two-thirds on treatment according to the National AIDS and STI Control Program.