HIV fight gets boost as country receives child-friendly ARVs

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021 02:00 |
Health Chief Administrative Secretary, Dr Mercy Mwangangi.

Kenya has received child-friendly Antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs from five UN agencies to accelerate treatment of minors living with HIV after almost a year of stock-outs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The drugs are flavoured with strawberry to make them palatable for children who have previously resented the conventional bitter ARVs.

Receiving the donation, Health Chief Administrative Secretary, Dr Mercy Mwangangi described the latest development as a big win for the country’s children.

The five United Nations  agencies including UNAIDS; Unicef, UNFPA, and the UN Women donated 47,000 packs of Dolutegravir (DTG) 50mg and 28,000 packs of Dolutegravir 10mg through the Clinton Health Access Initiative.

“Evidence supports using DTG as a preferred first line ARV drug for children and adolescents living with HIV, with approved dosing and people co-infected with TB,” said Mwangangi during an event at Nyumbani Children’s Home in Karen.

She said Kenya has made tremendous strides in the fight against HIV. 

Currently, there are approximately 1.5 million People Living with HIV in Kenya with 106, 807 being children.

“To accelerate the improvement of treatment outcomes, the program has prioritised the transition of children and adolescents living with HIV to optimized ART regimens, a process that started in 2018,” the CAS pointed out.

She said treatment optimisation in children aims at providing child-friendly treatment options, that support viral load suppression and better treatment outcomes.

Treatment optimisation

Out of the over 1.2 million living with HIV currently on ARVs, 68,011 are children below 15 years.

Dr Andrew Mulwa, the director Medical Services, Preventive and Promotive Health at the ministry said the government has successfully transitioned children in Kenya from Nevirapine to Effervirenze, then to DTG 50 mg and now to DTG 10 mg.

“Today marks a milestone in the history of HIV care and treatment,” he stated.

Mulwa said great progress has been made since 2015 when the Ministry of Health with the support of all stakeholders embarked on the journey to treatment optimisation.

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