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Dolutegravir Access: Achieved!

At the UN General Assembly meeting Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS, announced that an exciting new pricing agreement has been made to accelerate the availability of the first affordable, generic, single-pill HIV treatment, which will contain Dolutegravir.

A potent integrase inhibitor, Dolutegravir is an antiretroviral drug championed due to its low risk of side effects, high efficacy in reducing viral load, good tolerability amongst most patients, and relatively low risk of drug resistance. Access to a single-pill regimen that has a favourable side effect and resistance profile has been a long-term goal of the HIV research and scientific community, and will hugely beneficial people living with HIV who need to be on daily, life-long treatment.

The new treatment will be produced by Mylan Laboratories Limited and Aurobindo Pharma, and will cost a patient US $75 a year. The current price of first-line HIV treatment is US $125 per year. A single pill regime reduces the cost of antiretroviral treatment overall, making treatment more affordable both for the individuals who pay for treatment and governments, such as South Africa, that fund large treatment programmes.

The agreement is a collaborative effort of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The U.S. Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the governments of South Africa and Kenya.

Linda-Gail Bekker, COO of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation in South Africa and President of the International AIDS Society, commented, “This is a wonderful breakthrough that will add real impetus to the need to reach all the people in South Africa and around the world who are living with HIV with this life-saving treatment. This regimen is easy to take with few side effects and gives hope to ensuring more people will take their treatment every day and ensure viral suppression. We know that is good for both the health of HIV-positive people as well as prevention”.

This is a historic step for HIV treatment and will lead to the expansion of treatment access across the globe. Effective treatment allows people living with HIV to manage the virus and lead lives as long and productive as HIV-negative people; effective treatment is also effective prevention, as HIV positive people who are virally suppressed do not pass on the virus to others.

Today marks a massive milestone in the fight to end the HIV Epidemic.