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A New HIV Treatment Offers Hope To Ugandans

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A New HIV Treatment Offers Hope To Ugandans

(CTN News) – Since Gerald Muwonge tested positive for HIV eight years ago, keeping his virus load in check has meant carrying around vials of pills for his daily treatment regimen.

In addition, he has done his part to avoid the stigma that can come with being a gay man in Uganda.

There is, however, hope that this may soon change, thanks to a new treatment. This treatment, unlike other treatments that need to be taken twice a year, only requires injections to be taken.

In October of last year, about 200 patients in the East African country began a trial of an injection containing the drugs cabotegravir, or CAB-LA, and rilpivirine that had been approved by the World Health Organization.

A deadline of 2024 has been set for the results of the study.

This treatment, which was developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, is the first non-pill option to combat HIV, and studies have shown that it can even outperform the efficacy of oral medications.

“With these drugs, you have to take them every single day. And if you are taking them every day at exactly 9am, it should be the same way for the rest of your life,” said Muwonge, a 27-year-old activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights (LGBTI).

As a result of the strict regimen of taking pills every day, he said his head was confused.

There is no doubt that the newly developed injectable treatment option could help to reduce the stigma that HIV patients suffer. This is especially true for gay men like Muwonge who are not participating in the trial.

Despite the fact that homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, gay people often face arrest, ostracisation and violence at the hands of law enforcement or local vigilantes because of their sexual orientation.

There are many people living with HIV who do not come out to their friends, family and co-workers, and prefer to hide the fact that they have an illness that disproportionately affects LGBTI members of society.

A treatment developed by GSK was approved by the FDA late last year and was endorsed by the World Health Organization this year as well.

Earlier this year, GlaxoSmithKline signed a deal to allow generic versions of its products to be used in developing countries. However, the generic versions will not be available until 2026 due to regulatory requirements for manufacturing and using them.

As a temporary measure, GSK said that it is working on giving the regimen free of charge to governments in order to conduct studies using it. As well as Kenya and South Africa, HIV trials are taking place in these countries.

According to William Tamale, a manager at Uganda’s Joint Clinical Research Centre who is responsible for administering injectable antiretroviral therapy, the drugs are deemed “very promising” by his team.

In Uganda, where as many as 1.4 million people live with HIV/AIDS, the JCRC has been chosen to administer a trial of the injectable drugs, while the Tamale organization is charged with implementing the program.

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