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HIV 'wonder drug' in the work - Bill Gates

Health & Science
 Bill Gates speaks in Beijing, Tuesday, November 6, 2018. [AP Photo]

Bill Gates, the American business magnate, and philanthropist said his Foundation is working with researchers to come up with a drug that offers 60 days and six months of protection against HIV and which will be available in the next four years.

Gates said the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation learnt a lot after developing tenofovir, a drug that was aimed at preventing HIV infections, if taken daily, but it did not succeed beyond the trial stage.

Yet, with 100 per cent compliance, Gates observed HIV would have been ended, and “we were hoping that everyone at risk of getting infected would get it (tenofovir). However, uptake of the drug was very limited with less than 20 per cent,” he said

Gates applauded Kenya’s efforts in the fight against HIV, unlike most African countries which have not attained the ambitious treatment target of 90:90:90-which is the United Nations target of ensuring at least 90 per cent of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90 per cent of all diagnosed cases receive antiretroviral therapy, and those on ARVs have their immune suppressed.

“Kenya has achieved her target,” he said during a media engagement at the University of Nairobi recently. “Some countries like South Africa did not get there.”

In Kenya, an estimated 1.5 million people are living with HIV of which 1.4 million are adults and over 100, 000 are children aged 0-14 years, according to the Ministry of Health.

At least 1.2 million people are on HIIV treatment, an increase from 600,000 in 2013.

ARVs are used for treatment and prevention, including the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.

ARVs suppress viral load which depends on the consistent and sustained use of ARVs.

Besides the USA which is the highest funder of HIV treatment and programmes, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the other entity supporting HIV research and treatment.

Gates said he was also proud of the low maternal, neonatal, and under-five deaths reported in Kenya through various initiatives and he was also proud that the country has reduced the death rate from eight per cent of under-five children to four per cent. 

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