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World AIDS Day takes place on 1 December each year. It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first-ever global health day.

Dr Ishwar Gilada highlighted the need for introducing a new regimen of antiretroviral therapy drugs, known as Tenofovir-Lamivudine-Dolutegravir (TLD) in government-run ART centres.

HIV cannot be cured. But it can be controlled with the help of medicines. Antiretroviral therapy is used across the world to manage HIV. It is usually a combination of three medications which are given to the patients. In order for patients to access these medications, ART centres have been established in India. At these centres, HIV patients are given these medicines free-of-cost.

Dr Gilada explained, “Currently in these centres patients are given a course of Tenofovir-Lamivudine-Efavirenz (TLE), but now, a new regimen of medicines known as TLD might be made available to patients. TLD medicines have been proven to be more effective for HIV patients and they have fewer side-effects.”

Dr Gilada stated that the TLE course has to be taken in 600mg or 400mg. But TLD can be taken as 50mg. It is of a smaller size and easier to consume form medicines. Many patients experience side effects with TLE medicines. But patients have lesser side-effects with TLD medicines.

He further said, “This medicine is manufactured in countries abroad. But India has manufactured a generic version of this drug. And poorer or developing countries use this generic version. There are 3.5 crore HIV patients across the world. From which 3 crore are on treatment. 92% of these patients use medicines made in India. But Indians themselves, cannot access these medicines easily.”

Dr Gilada informed that these medicines (TLD) are available in private hospitals and clinics. We have demanded that these medicines need to be made available in government-run ART centres. We have sent a proposal to the government, the government will take a decision regarding this in two months. And after that these medicines will be available in ART centres.

What is Antiretroviral therapy?

Standard antiretroviral therapy (ART) consists of the combination of at least three antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to maximally suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of HIV disease. Huge reductions have been seen in rates of death and suffering when use is made of a potent ARV regimen, particularly in early stages of the disease.

World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

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