THE Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) has deffered roll out of the HIV Dolutegravir (DTG) drug following indications that it causes complications in women of child bearing age and adolescent girls, which might lead to deformities in unborn babies born to HIV positive mothers taking the drug at the time of conception.
Zimbabwe intended to scale up Dolutegravir as a first choice ARV to all people living with HIV in the country next year. The drug is currently being used to manage HIV in people who fail to respond to the first and second line regimens.
In a statement, the MoHCC said since the current were reported in adolescent girls and HIV positive women of child bearing age, plans to switch to the drug for the rest of the population will still go as planned.
“Ministry would want to inform our partners and the public and that the potential safety issues raised in the WHO statement affect only women living with HIV of childbearing age using DTG, and not the rest of the populations. Therefore, Ministry still plans to transition to DTG later in 2019 for the rest of the population.
“Ministry will defer the transition to DTG for women living with HIV of childbearing age, who intend to fall pregnant, until these safety issues have been resolved. Meanwhile these women will continue to take efavirenz-based regimens as a safe and effective first line regimen, until further data is available,” said MoHCC in the statement.
They added that women already on 3rd line therapy taking DTG, who intend to get pregnant should visit their hospital or clinic where they receive their usual care for further advice.
A series of meetings will be convened to consult and gather the perspectives and views of different stakeholders to inform the ministry’s position regarding DTG use in Zimbabwe. Ministry will strengthen its reporting systems for medicine- related adverse events.