Scientists and Aids activists are now calling on policy-makers to shift from providing quantity ARV drugs to quality.
The reason behind this is if people on antiretroviral treatment (ART) have less side effects there would be fewer people who utilise health facilities because of opportunistic infections and governments would save money.
At present, most developing and under-developed countries, including South Africa, are still using stavudine (d4F) and Zidovudine (AZT). Both these combinations of ARV drugs are associated with adverse side effects when compared to tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF).
Tienie Stander, chief executive of Health Econometrix and Outcomes Research, is one of the people who are calling out for the phasing out of d4T and AZT.
“What we should be providing now is drugs that will double their life span and increase compliance because it has less side effects, if any, depending of course on the particular person’s tolerance.”
SA registered TDF in 2007. Shortly after that a policy was formulated to use it in the public sector but is yet to be implemented.
“People on ART are still being given d4T, which is the most common. We understand that the government is trying to save cost, but using stavudine and zodovudine is just not doing that,” Stander said.