With increasing concern that some HIV positive people are becoming resistant to anti-retroviral drugs, the Minister of Health, Dr. Richard Sezibera, has saidthat the situation is under control.
In an interview with The New Times, the minister noted that indeed, there are cases of HIV patients already resistant to Nevarapine- an antiretroviral drug and other types of prescriptions but change of drugs administered is one of the solutions that the ministry has taken.
“Yes, there is resistance to some first line antiretroviral drugs or ARVs. These drugs are given as a cocktail of medication and the virus is apparently resistant to some of the drugs in the cocktail.
“In this regard, we have changed the guidelines to include new drugs as our first line of defence for new patients and we have also changed the strategy for women who receive these drugs during pregnancy because clearly, Nevarapine is not working,” Sezibera explained.
He also noted that other measures such as change of protocol for laboratory testing and CD4 count have equally been adopted.
“For example at the national level, we have increased the frequency on how often we carry out CD4 count for those on ARVs and these are major decisions against drug resistance,” he said.
During the just concluded 59th session of the World Health Organization Regional Committee, the 46 member countries of Africa agreed to improve interventions with regard to fighting drug resistance for HIV, Tuberculosis and malaria among others.
Some participants like Swaziland’s Minister for Health, Benedict Xabo emphasized that continuous research should be done to identify new measures of curbing drug resistance.