30th July 2019
Tapiwa Kujinga is the director of the Pan-African Treatment Access Movement (PATAM), a social movement to ensure access to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, as a fundamental part of comprehensive care for all people with HIV/AIDS in Africa.
PATAM works at country level to roll out sexual and reproductive rights training to organisations, and is steadily extending their work to a regional level, by gaining deeper understanding of scientific knowledge around HIV to ensure relevant training is provided to smaller communities with HIV.
An active advocate for the HIV community, Kujinga started looking into treatments and scientific breakthroughs in the field, after his step-daughter was diagnosed with HIV. Considering his interest in the research and knowledge of HIV treatments in Africa, he is also a member of AFROCAB which is the African Community Advisory Board, an organisation that focuses on the implementation of scientific break throughs in Africa.
Considering Kujinga’s strong interest in health literacy and access to efficacious HIV treatments, he talks of DTG as a game changer, “We’re advocating for it, we’ve been saying ‘give people dolutegravir’ because it ticks so many boxes.”
He also adds, “When we compare to evidence coming from countries where dolutegravir has been rolled out, we realise that this is the drug that would make a big difference to our people.”
About 1,3 million people are living with HIV in Zimbabwe and statistics show that 90 percent are on treatment. In Zimbabwe, DTG was initially a part of third line treatment of HIV, and is expected to be rolled out nationally as first line treatment in mid-2019, to all populations except woman who are in their first trimester of pregnancy.
AFROCAB is currently working on an initiative where they are advocating for dolutegravir in several countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda. Tapiwa talks of evidence that is coming in, “especially from countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda… that people are seeing a huge change in their lives. You know people are feeling less tired, some people are feeling more you know, alert.”
Kujinga also talks about the “very small” size of the DTG pill, “because the current ones are quite big and people were complaining. You know, especially ladies were complaining that they make noise when they have two bottles, and they have their handbag there and they’re on the public transport and people can hear the noise being made by the pills. They’re confident that the TLD treatment doses will be smaller and it’s going to make less noise than what they have right now.”
UNAIDS country stats – Zimbabwe