Because of drug toxicity, Sekyaana says they have had to withdraw some drugs and made recommendations for review of treatment guidelines which they have realized negatively impact retention of clients on treatment.
Through its platform put in place for the public to report
any suspected side effects to drugs, the National Drug Authority (NDA) has
recorded over 5000 adverse effects to Anti-Retroviral Therapies (ARVs).
According to the NDA Public Relations Officer Fredrick
Sekyaana, they set up a platform for people to report what they experience while
they take the drugs in order to intervene in case drugs are doing more harm to
///Cue in: “To date over …..
Cue out: ……guidelines among others”. //
The adverse reactions range from mild ones such as hyper
pigmentation of soles and palms, loss of
appetite, sleep loss, headache, gaining
fat in certain parts of the body, diarrhea and fatigue, to serious complications
especially with long stay on treatment such as liver damage.
This revelation in a way validates lengthy debate over
toxicity which has had a many of people testify about tough complications they
have had to endure arising from treatment.
One of such persons who has been vocal about toxicity is Dr.
Stephen Watiti, one of the first medical workers to come public about his HIV
status who revealed to this reporter in an earlier interview that the first
drugs he was taking before being enrolled on second line treatment killed his
nerves. To date he said many Ugandans can’t afford latest medicines which have
minimal side effects.
Watiti spoke of how he was first enrolled on a drug called
stavudine which has since been phased out because of severe side effects. He said
the medicine could cause women to lose their hips and some clients develop a
hump on their backs.
Because of this drug toxicity, Sekyaana says they have had
to withdraw some drugs and made recommendations for review of treatment
guidelines as they have realized they negatively impact retention of clients
on treatment. He says the authority has authorized
up to 61 clinical trials relating to treatment to be conducted whereby some 52 are still on-going.
Already, Uganda is still lagging in terms of people who have
adhered to treatment and suppressed the virus. According to Ministry of Health
figures only 78% of the 1.2million people on treatment to have suppressed the
Even as this figure is above average, Dr. Joshua Musinguzi
who heads the AIDS Control Programme at the Ministry of Health says a big
number of people have had to be shifted from first line treatment, to second
line treatment and a few others to third line treatments which are much more
expensive to acquire, all because of failure by clients to adhere to their initial
treatment. Part of the reason as to why they don’t sustain treatment is due to
side effects that they can’t bear.