2 000 die per week from HIV drugs

The continued use of the toxic first line HIV drugs which were phased out by the World Health Organisation is leading to the deaths of at least 2 000 people a week, according the Zimbabwe National Network for People living with HIV.

Despite being phased out by WHO, Stavudine is still available for AIDS patients.
Despite being phased out by WHO, Stavudine is still available for AIDS patients.

Earlier this year the government made a great leap towards second line drugs that include Tenofir and Neveripine and moved away from the first line Stavudine drug. However, the transition has been bumpy as large stocks of the latter are still available on the market.

ZNNP+ chairperson, Sebastian Chinhaire, bemoaned the continued dispensation of the drug.

“Close to 2000 people a week needlessly die of HIV-related illnesses. People with HIV continue taking a drug (Stavudine) that has been condemned worldwide for its side effects because the country coffers are said to be empty,” said Chinhaire.

Compared to Stavudine, the Tenofir drugs does not have side effects, but is it one and a half times more expensive. It is also taken with Neveripine.

Zimbabwe has a total of 1.2 million people living with HIV and, going by the WHO regulations of 2010 which also led to the adoption of the second line of drugs, 593 168 people are in need of ARVs. The cash-strapped government, with the aid of donor partners, can only afford to provide ARV treatment to 400 000 people.

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