In what is likely one of the largest treatment rollouts in South African history, well over four million people living with HIV have started taking the antiretroviral dolutegravir since its introduction around four years ago. Now, according to a recent study published in the Lancet medical journal, use of dolutegravir in South Africa is associated with more people staying on treatment and higher rates of viral suppression. Elri Voigt unpacks the study findings and assesses progress in the country’s switch to dolutegravir-based HIV treatment.
In 2019, the Department of Health started providing the antiretroviral drug dolutegravir as part of HIV treatment in the public sector. Three years later, close to 3.2 million people in South Africa are taking dolutegravir every day. Even so, the rollout of dolutegravir hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Elri Voigt investigates how the massive undertaking of switching millions of people to a new drug has gone.