Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has launched a fixed dose combination anti-retroviral called TLD in uMthwalume in the Ugu District on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast. The new regimen is believed to have fewer side effects and offers less resistance.

Ugu is one of three districts in the province that looks set to attain their UNAIDS 90-90-90 target by December 2019.

The UNAIDS target focuses on 90% of all people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV receiving ARVs and 90% of all people receiving ARVs to have achieved viral suppression.

“We have come to introduce a new drug we call TLD. It is basically a replacement of three combinations of drugs. These drugs are still effective but they are expensive. So for that reason we have this new combination that makes it easy to use the drug because it has no side effects, and it is more effective in suppressing the virus. “

In South Africa about 7 million people are currently living with HIV, 4.8 million of them are on treatment. The country is hoping to reach more than 6 million on treatment by December 2020.

UNAIDS Director Doctor Molewa Mugabe says he is impressed with the progress the country has made in fighting HIV and Aids. “I can say without fear or contradiction the first country ever to adopt the 90.90.90 targets was South Africa. We want to thank you for this leadership. We want to thank the South African government for continuing to lead. We launched the UNAIDS report. We announced that South Africa has passed five million marks of people.”

The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Pepfar) has this year alone, donated close to R11 billion to South Africa to end HIV and AIDS. Pepfar’s Suzy Jack urged communities not to behave irresponsibly, simply because there is treatment and funding options.

“Pepfar continues to support South Africa. In the generosity of the American people and United States congress Pepfar is poised to provide R11 billion in support to South Africa this year alone.”

With the new combination anti- retroviral, TLD, in place in public healthcare facilities, the Department of Health says it is hopeful that the country will set a new target to the current UN AIDS one, and aim for 95-95-95. Author- Nonjabulo Mntungwa-Makamu