UGANDA – The government has revealed that people living with HIV/AIDS will have the option of switching to HIV injectable treatment in 2023 if the drug trials are successful.
Dr. Nelson Musoba, Director General of the Uganda Aids Commission, made the revelation while speaking to journalists at parliament on Wednesday, after meeting with Parliament’s Presidential Affairs Committee, where Commission officials had come to defend the 2022/2023 National Budget Framework Paper.
Musoba explained that research into HIV/AIDS treatment has come a long way, with patients moving from taking several pills a day to one tablet a day as first line, and there is advanced research on the injectable treatment that will be used for HIV/AIDS treatment that has been approved in some countries.
“Joint Clinical Research Center is now carrying out research on our people and in the next one year, it should be possible for our population to access that. Once you get the injection, you take about two months. It is very convenient, we will be able to deal with issues of stigma and discrimination, you take it in the privacy of your room. You don’t have to be inconvenienced taking daily, so it is a great innovation,” said Musoba.
He did, however, state that HIV/AIDS patients will have the option of continuing their current treatment or switching to injectables.
“People will not be necessarily forced to move from tablets to injections, but those who see advantages and like to take it up, it will be an additional to go onto it,” said Musoba.
It should be noted that Uganda began a trial for the injectable HIV drugs cabotegravir and rilpivirine in October 2021, after the World Health Organization approved their use as injectables in 2020.
South Africa and the United States of America have both approved the use of injectables among their respective populations.
Uganda, along with Kenya and South Africa, is one of three African countries that have received WHO approval to conduct the trials.
Musoba also urged HIV patients not to lose hope over the long time it has taken to develop HIV/AIDS vaccines, stating that while pharmaceutical companies were able to develop Covid-19 vaccines within a year and both are viruses, the nature of HIV/AIDS is different from Covid.
“The scientists are working hard, but the HIV/AIDs virus is complicated, it keeps on changing its mutation from time to time. The Covid virus was easier to detect compared to HIV/AIDS but we are hopeful that the lessons we have learned from Covid virus will be used in the research for HIV/AIDs vaccines,” he said.
The Uganda Aids Commission has been allocated Shs10.680 billion (US$3.03 million) in the national budget for 2022/2023, of which Shs1.320 billion (US$3.75 million) will cover wages, Shs7.510 billion (US$2.1 million) will cover non-wage costs, and Shs1.850 billion (US$0.525 million) will be used for capital development.
The Commission, on the other hand, has been left to deal with a funding gap of Shs10 billion, (US$2.84 million) with some of the unfunded priorities including HIV/AIDS research and advocacy, which has a funding gap of Shs3.4 billion (US$ 0.965 million).
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