New child-friendly HIV pill set for launch

National Aids Control Council South Rift Regional coordinator Hillary Ngetich at a past event. Kenyans see HIV/Aids and venereal diseases as the biggest threats to the existence of mankind, a new survey reveals. FILE PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • At the moment, children living with the virus take four to five different syrups of the formulation which has a bitter taste and is proving to be a real struggle getting them to take.
  • Paediatric HIV is now classified as “neglected” because majority of the victims come from poor and  marginalised families who have little access to basic health care.

A child-friendly anti-retroviral that combines different drugs needed to manage HIV/Aids will soon be available in Kenya.

The drug, which will be released in December, comes as big relief for hundreds of thousands of children born with HIV in Kenya.

The children will now be treated with one pill, which is a combination of two drugs known as Lopinavir and ritonavir.

At the moment, children living with the virus take four to five different syrups of the formulation which has a bitter taste and is proving to be a real struggle getting them to take.

“Some of the current syrups formulation available for children are bitter and have a high amount of alcohol, giving them a horrible taste,” said Dr Robert Kimutai.

IMPROVED FORMULATION

Speaking to Nation on the sidelines of the second African Conference of Science Journalists which ended in Nairobi last week, Dr Kimutai said the improved formulation would be easy to take and more appropriate treatment for children living with HIV.

“We’re working to  fill the treatment gap by developing a more appropriate drug for children. It should be easy to take and have no adverse effects particularly in children co-infected with other diseases such as tuberculosis,” said Dr Mutai.

Many HIV drugs have undesirable interactions with those for TB, he said during the conference attended by more than 150 journalists.

Dr Mutai, who is also a paediatrician and clinical trial manager, said the drug was developed in partnership with the Geneva-based Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi).

At the same time, Dr Mutai said that unlike the syrup which required to be kept in a refrigerator, the new drug does not require such conditions and has a long shelf life.

“The poor rural women who were forced to travel to hospitals to acquire the drug almost on a daily basis will now be relieved of the burden of making such expensive trips to the hospitals to acquire the drug,” he said.

Paediatric HIV is now classified as “neglected” because majority of the victims come from poor and  marginalised families who have little access to basic health care.

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