There are still several significant challenges that need to be addressed to ensure that people living with HIV (PLHIV) have better access to affordable, quality treatment. According to Dr Nobulumko Xhantini, Medical Affairs Executive at Cipla South Africa, these challenges include finding innovative means to reduce the pill burden associated with treating HIV and preventing co-infections such as tuberculosis (TB); as well as disseminating information to the caregivers, women and treating healthcare practitioners.
To better understand such challenges, Cipla joined more than 15 000 global leaders, policy makers, researchers and advocates at the 22nd International AIDS Conference – the largest gathering on any global health issue in the world – in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
According to the 2017 UNAIDS report on the state of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, it was found that in 2016 there were between 1.6 million – 2.1 million new HIV infections worldwide1. Despite the great advancements that have been made in combatting the spread of HIV globally, there is still a dire need to further increase awareness, reduce the stigma associated with an HIV diagnosis, enable better access to affordable treatments for PLHIV, and improve the quality of life for the individuals being treated for HIV and co-infections.
Over the last 17 years Cipla has been actively working at finding solutions to the challenges posed by the HIV pandemic on the African continent. Cipla pioneered a fixed-dose triple-therapy antiretroviral (ARV) in 2001, reducing the cost of treatment to less than $1 per patient per day.
To help further reduce the pill burden on patients, Cipla has once again pioneered a WHO approved single tablet, known as Q-TIB. The single tablet is a combination of Co-trimoxazole, Isoniazid and Vitamin B6. This combination tablet can be used for the prevention of TB and other opportunistic infections in a person diagnosed with HIV. These compounds are currently available in three separate pills. Cipla has submitted this drug for registration in South Africa.
She further added that there are also medications (pre-exposure prophylaxis – PrEP) available to help prevent individuals who are at increased risk from becoming infected and discordant couples from infecting the uninfected partner. However, barriers such as stigma, cost and limited experience in PrEP delivery by HIV providers, exist.
In South Africa, PrEP is available at local clinics and specialised PrEP clinics. “It is imperative that awareness is created around why vulnerable groups need access to PrEP, where it can be obtained, and how to dispel myths related to preventative treatments,” says Dr Xhantini.
“Cipla is proud to be involved in any effort to mobilise the public and private sectors in the fight against HIV by providing access to the highest level of care available,” said Dr Xhantini.