Forward Nyanyiwa Correspondent
Zimbabwe has just started a national roll-out of the new antiretroviral drug, Dolutegravir (DTG), which is set to gradually wean off Tenolam E.
Tenolam E was introduced in Zimbabwe during the first quarter of 2013, amid jubilation from HIV and Aids patients as it replaced Stavudine and Nevirapine (Stalanev), which had become unpopular then because of “uncosmetic” side effects among other unpleasant reactions it caused.
Stalanev would cause people taking it to have “bull humps”, an unpopular feature where one would grow big on the upper torso and thinner on the lower torso.
Tenolam E then came in as a relief, as it minimised all physical side effects in as much as it was a bit more effective in suppressing the virus.
Since 2013, the drug managed to effectively suppress the once deadly scourge and a lot of other opportunistic infections were thwarted.
Many lives were saved.
Zimbabwe needed a powerful drug to reach its targets. The country was still having its baby steps to reach the now popular (WHO) 90-90-90 goals, and Tenolam E provided such a perfect answer.
The results started to come as Zimbabwe started to write its own Cindirella tale. As of now, the national viral suppression figure stands on a commendable 90 percent mark, with all credit to Tenolam E.
Because the drug had no challenges of physical side effects just like its predecessor Stalanev, many people were initiated as the fight to combat Aids gathered momentum.
It heralded an era where there was quick recovery on all those who would get the drug on falling sick and rarely would the country witness unprecedented Aids death of yesteryear.
However, challenges of shortages started to emerge and this unfortunately caused a major impact on the fight against HIV.
The shortages, which were mainly to do with foreign currency, NatPharm incompetence and drug pilfery saw the birth of some HIV-resistant strains.
Drug addicts also capitalised on some of its effects to cause drowsiness to make it one their key ingredients to manufacture Nyaope.
This then posed a new headache for the country as we could not stomach resistant strains.
The viral suppression target was put to test as the drug was now finding the going tough.
HIV was slowly coming back again in the picture.
Something had to be done.
The Government then introduced DTG as a replacement.
DTG, another strong molecule to combat Aids is being introduced in small chunks.
The new drug comes in with a strong efficacy to suppress the HIV virus and chances of resistance are rare, if not completely impossible.
As drug addicts continue to hunt for the old antiretroviral for their Nyaope production, DTG comes in with no “alcoholic” effect.
In less than six months, it will be the year 2020 and the country has to speed up its interventions to suppress the virus to reach the 90 percent mark.
As HIV patients welcome DTG, which have a few side effects, it is necessary to take a bow to Tenolam E.
The drug which kick started our current marathon to do away with HIV and Aids once and for all.