Nairobi News


Uganda approves new injectable HIV drug

Uganda has approved the new injectable HIV drug known as cabotegravir (CAB-LA) as additional optional drugs for preventing HIV/Aids infection.

This comes a few weeks after Zimbabwe became the first country in Africa and the third in the world to approve the injectable drug.

Cabotegravir (CAB-LA) is a HIV prevention drug recently recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Currently, HIV-negative individuals rely on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) which is taken on a daily basis to lower the risk of becoming HIV-positive when exposed to the virus.

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Dr Vincent Bagambe, the director for planning and strategic information at the Uganda Aids Commission (UAC), said that CAB-LA as an injectable form of PrEP has proved to be highly effective in reducing the risk of HIV acquisition.

“This year, the Ministry of Health approved two new HIV prevention methods; the dapivirine vaginal ring and long acting injectable cabotegravir, and service guidelines have been updated appropriately,” said Dr Bagambe.

“The vaginal ring, which women insert in their private parts before having sex, has an antiviral agent that is able to prevent HIV infection. This option will put HIV prevention in the hands of women. If all women vulnerable to HIV can embrace it, it will be a game changer,” he explained.

He also revealed that the infection rate among children born to mothers living with HIV has increased from 1.7 percent last year to 2.7 percent this year due to poor adherence to treatment.

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A person using CAB-LA method receives one injection after every six months. This comes after WHO last year recommended that CAB-LA be offered as an additional HIV prevention option for people at substantial risk of HIV infection.

According to the report, last year, Uganda registered 54,000 new HIV/Aids infections, of which two thirds were adolescents. However, the report indicates that girls bear the highest brunt of the new infections.

Kenya is yet to approve the injectable HIV drug.

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