Zimbabwe started implementing the new WHO guidelines in April. The combination antiretroviral treatment Stavudine, Lamivudine and Nevirapine is being replaced with Tenofovir-based regimens which have fewer side effects.
National Aids Council(NAC) Board Vice Chairperson, Dr Phineas Makurira said though Stavudine is widely used in developing countries due to its lower cost, it has a number of side-effects.
â€œPeople who have been on Stavudine for the past 3 years and are not showing any side effects will not be moved to Tenofovir. Actually we have heard cases of people who are saying they want to remain on Stavudine because they are responding so well,â€ said Dr Makurira.
Dr Makurira said due to budgetary constraints, it will take 3 years to completely phase out Stavudine with 80 000 people earmarked to benefit under the first phase.
The country still has stocks of Stavudine, and all new patients will continue to be initiated on Stavudine while those already experiencing side-effects would be moved to the new drug regimen until available stocks are finished. Around 380 000 people are getting ARVs from the public health system.