24 Jan 2019
DOLUTEGRAVIR IN SOUTHERN & EASTERN AFRICA AND THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE
From the Policy Brief:
An important new antiretroviral medicine will soon become available to people living with HIV in various Sub-Saharan African countries. Unfortunately, many women might be denied access to this new drug due to an inability of regulators and health departments to see potential risks associated with the drug in the proper context.
In May 2018, preliminary findings from an observational study in Botswana raised a potential concern about the use of dolutegravir for women. Dolutegravir was in the process of being recommended in national HIV guidelines in almost 70 low- and middle-income countries, following the earlier move by richer countries.
However, once this potential concern emerged things changed. The World Health Organization (WHO) issued new treatment guidelines that countries put into effect with varying degrees of conservatism – some countries giving women the option to choose, and others not providing women with dolutegravir at all.
Yet again, policy makers are making unilateral decisions, and not always good decisions, over women’s health. In most countries, women living with HIV have not even been asked what they think. Instead they are being excluded from accessing a game-changing HIV medicine that will be widely available to men.