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OUT provides direct health services to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, MSM, sex workers, and injecting drug users, including HIV testing, counselling, treatment and general lifestyle advice and support.

OUT has been in existence for more than 21 years and is dedicated to the building of healthy and empowered LGBT communities in South Africa and internationally, while reducing hetrosexism and homophobia in society.

ADVANCE HIV study set to save SA billions

“If successful, patients will benefit from a much safer and more forgiving drug regimen in a smaller tablet,” said Francois Venter, Deputy Director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (WRHI).

The WRHI and their partners, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and UNITAID, began enrolling patients for the study in three clinic sites in Johannesburg’s CBD on Monday.

ADVANCE will enrol 1100 patients and is projected to have preliminary data available by the end of 2018 with the hope that the new regimen can be introduced into South Africa’s HIV treatment programme in 2019.

Fewer side-effects – available evidence

Evidence from over half a million patients who have used this combination in high-income countries suggests these drugs are safer for patients and produce fewer side effects: particularly reducing damage to the kidneys and bones.

The fact that the drugs are newer means there is little to no resistance to them which means fewer patients would need to be switched to second-line regimens – which are more toxic and much more expensive.

Since September 2016, the Department of Health dropped eligibility requirements for access to antiretroviral treatment (ART) so that all people living with HIV in South Africa (more than 6 million potential patients) can receive HIV drugs.

By mid 2016 the number of people on treatment had increased to 3.4 million, making it the largest ART programme in the world.

Treating more with same budget

In a report published in the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ) on Monday, researchers suggest that “[e]ssentially, with the current ART budget, we could purchase [the new drug regimen] for everyone taking ART at the end of 4 years, even assuming the high end of 500 000 new patients needing treatment annually”.

The authors note that the need to reduce drug costs is urgent considering “the steady improvement in life expectancy of patients on ART mean that the ART budget must accommodate millions of people for several decades of life”.

If the regimen is found to be safe and effective in South African patients, people living with HIV will benefit from less-toxic drugs, the government and other funders will save money and pharmaceutical companies will benefit from simplified manufacturing with lower volumes of active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Rare “win-win scenario”

“In an age of escalating medical costs, we are seldom presented with a win-win scenario with regard to clinical care,” notes the SAMJ article.

If successful, this would be a “huge” South African “victory to complement the current successful ART roll-out, with knock-on effects for the entire region and other low- and middle-income countries”. 

Article courtesy of Health-e News.

Have you been threatened, hit, raped or had your property damaged or stolen because you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI)? Then you have been a victim of a hate crime.
OUT offers exciting training to mainstream service providers and other interested parties. The training assists individuals to understand themselves as sexual beings.
Currently OUT distributes safer sex packs to a range of venues in Tshwane that are utilised by gay men and lesbian women. These packs also include responsible sex messaging, appropriate barrier methods and lube.
OUT's Engage Men’s Health project offers free and confidential sexual health services to gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM).