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An antiretroviral drug dolutegravir, commonly known as DTG, has been certified safe for use by pregnant women and those in their reproductive years by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Though initial research linked the drug with neural tube defects (NTDs) in infants born to women using dolutegravir at the time of conception, recent studies have shown that it is far more tolerable than the older drug efavirenz, which patients have reported causes depression and hallucinations in the first few months and could lead to people not staying on treatment.

 

“DTG is a drug that is more effective, easier to take and has fewer side effects than alternative drugs that are currently used. DTG also has a high genetic barrier to developing drug resistance, which is important given the rising trend of resistance to efavirenz and nevirapine-based regimens,” states the WHO.

 

WHO in a statement shared on its official website on Monday, said that the DTG drug is now more effective, easier to take and has fewer side effects than alternative drugs that are currently used.

 

“DTG also has a high genetic barrier to developing drug resistance, which is important given the rising trend of resistance to EFV and nevirapine-based regimens.

“In 2019, 12 out of 18 countries surveyed by WHO reported pre-treatment drug resistance levels exceeding the recommended threshold of 10 per cent.

“All of above findings informed the decision to update the 2019 guidelines, and the newly updated recommendations aim to help more countries improve their HIV policies,” WHO said.

”For any medications, informed choice is important as every treatment decision needs to be based on an informed discussion with the health provider weighing the benefits and potential risks,” it said.

 

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