A nationwide rollout of the new combination antiretroviral drug called LTE 400 is scheduled to commence this January, with government confirming that adequate stocks of the drug are now in the country.

The new user friendly anti retroviral drug is a fixed combination of tenofovir, lamuvidine and efavirance and is taken once a day.

The drug was introduced in the country three years ago and was only being distributed at a smaller scale at selected facilities with priority being given to people who were having side effects from using the LTE 600 combination.

Head HIV and TB Unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Owen Mugurungi said the nationwide rollout is a positive development which demonstrates that the country is adhering to the World Health Organisation treatment guidelines.

Harare Hospital Opportunistic Clinic is one of the few facilities in the country that had started initiating people on the new drug.

Head of the clinic Dr Tapiwa Bwakura said people who are taking the new drug are tolerating the medication very well.

The pill will be offered as a first-line treatment, and the hope is that its excellent profile demonstrated by its powerful suppression of HIV, low toxicity, and ease of use will make it easier for people to stay on treatment and reduce the chances of ART resistance emerging.

According to the Zimbabwe population-based HIV impact assessment, new HIV infections have dropped from over 82 570 in 2009 to an estimated 42 314 in 2016 and the decrease has been attributed to the rapid expansion of treatment services over the years.