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Government phases out ARV drug

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ZIMBABWE has stopped the use of Stavudine — an anti-retroviral drug — on patients suffering from HIV and Aids-related complications because of its adverse side effects, an official has revealed.

Luyanduhlobo Makwati
Own correspondent

Speaking on Friday at a meeting held at a local hotel organised by Say What — an organisation dealing with sexual and productive health in tertiary institutions — Dr Joseph Murungu said the drug had serious side effects to the extent that the government had resolved to stop using it.

“I appreciate that the country has successfully stopped using the drug because it had serious side effects,” he said.

“I know all drugs have side effects, but on Stavudine, we are happy that the country has allowed us to completely stop using it.”

Murungu could not be drawn to shed light on when the government phaesd out the drug.

He said the drug was no longer common and administered to patients who were on anti-retroviral treatment (ART) because of its effects.

Some of the side effects of using the drug are a big stomach and an above normal growth in back and calf muscles.

Jimmy Wilford, Say What’s executive director, said their mandate was to lobby the government to create a system where everyone was able to access drugs countrywide.

He noted that at times you got a university student from Bulawayo studying in Midlands institutions. That particular student will only be having a month’s supply of drugs and would be required to travel back to Bulawayo to receive another month’s supply.

“It’s very challenging because students in tertiary institutions are susceptible to default treatment when they run out of their drugs,” he said.

“As a result, they are bound to suffer more. There is need for the government to allow health facilities in universities and colleges to have ART treatment in their campuses as to avoid new infections.”

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