HIV warning; first line vital


PATIENTS on HIV treatment should adhere to first line therapy so that they do not graduate to second and third lines which are expensive and have many health complications, the Adult Center for Excellence has said.

Coordinator for the Adult Center for Excellence Lloyd Mulenga said the third line treatment is provided to HIV positive clients who have treatment failure compounded by various factors, such as non-adherence to treatment schedules.

Dr Mulenga said Government was spending K4.8 million per year to treat 200 people who have developed resistance to first and second lines of treatment.

He said it costs K840 for a single patient per year on the first line of ARV therapy while the second line costs K2, 040 for a single patient.

“There are so many tablets that a patient on third line treatment has to take in a single day. In addition there are some serious side effects from these medicines which add to the patients’ discomfort,” Dr Mulenga said.

Dr Mulenga said the Centre for Excellence was also concerned about the difficult medicinal regime that patients on third line treatment had to endure.

The Government is also spending K64,200 on treatment of 30,000 people on the second line of treatment.

‘‘A patient is put on the second line of management when we establish that the client  is resistant to the first line treatment of ARVs and where the second line fails the last option remains the third line of management which is extremely expensive.

‘‘Persons that are resistant to drugs in the first and second lines of management are likely to transmit a virus strain that is resistant to the uninfected or to those that are either on the first or the second line of treatment,’’ Dr Mulenga said.    He said the cost of determining drug resistance comes with a cost  by way of investigations of K3, 800 per patient and the viral load test costs K260 per patient.

Dr Mulenga said the government was currently meeting this huge burden with the support of donors and it was evident that if the recipients of these efforts do not adhere to the treatment at first line, the trend was likely to frustrate government efforts.


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