HIV remains one of the fastest killing diseases in Tanzania today. Although many more viral diseases have been discovered of late, the disease still remains the most widely discussed and feared.
Antiretroviral therapy (ARV) is the recommended treatment for people living with HIV. In Tanzania, the cost of ARV varies depending on the type and brand of medication. While the Tanzanian government provides free ARV to its citizens, many people still purchase ARV from private pharmacies due to limited availability or a preference for a specific medication. In this article, we will discuss the top 10 most commonly used ARV in Tanzania, their prices, and their benefits. Additionally, we will answer three popular questions regarding the cost of ARV in Tanzania.
- Tenofovir (TDF) – 30 tablets cost between 5,000 to 25,000 Tanzanian shillings (TZS).
- Zidovudine (AZT) – 60 tablets cost between 5,000 to 35,000 TZS.
- Efavirenz (EFV) – 30 tablets cost between 10,000 to 40,000 TZS.
- Lamivudine (3TC) – 60 tablets cost between 5,000 to 25,000 TZS.
- Atazanavir (ATV) – 30 tablets cost between 70,000 to 100,000 TZS.
- Ritonavir (RTV) – 60 tablets cost between 25,000 to 70,000 TZS.
- Darunavir (DRV) – 30 tablets cost between 70,000 to 100,000 TZS.
- Lopinavir/Ritonavir (LPV/r) – 60 tablets cost between 25,000 to 70,000 TZS.
- Nevirapine (NVP) – 60 tablets cost between 5,000 to 25,000 TZS.
- Abacavir (ABC) – 60 tablets cost between 25,000 to 70,000 TZS.
Benefits of ARV:
ARV medication can significantly improve the quality of life for people living with HIV. It can reduce the amount of virus in the body, delay the progression of the disease, and prevent transmission to others. Additionally, ARV medication can improve the immune system, decrease the risk of developing opportunistic infections, and decrease the mortality rate among people living with HIV.
The good news, however, is that medical practitioners have now discovered medications that can curb the effect of this disease – Introducing Antiretroviral Drugs (ARV). While a lot have been basking about the introduction of this drug, the problem remains its availability and inevitably, the price it goes for.
In this post, we will take a look at how much ARV drugs go for in Tanzania today.
How Much Do ARV Drugs Cost in Tanzania?
This has been one of the most talked-about topics in the Tanzanian medical sector today. With a lot of confusion and uncertainty about much ARV drugs go for, recent reports claim that a pack of this drug sells for between TSh16,371 – TSh26,750 depending on the type of drug and where you buy it from.
Generally, these drugs are off the counter and can mainly be bought when the patient has a prescription. The availability of the drug is another thing a lot of patients have complained about. While some plead to the government and National health agencies to make the drug available for free, others complain about its limited availability, especially in the less developed areas of the country.
What are ARVs?
Antiretroviral drugs are a class of drugs used in the main treatment of HIV. While it should be noted that these drugs do not entirely cure the disease, they can significantly lessen the amount of virus in the body of the patient. This essentially keeps the immune system sturdy enough to fight off diseases.
ARVs are available in different types. In fact, more than 40 ARV drugs are approved to treat HIV globally. Generally, most doctors recommend patients to take two or more of these drugs each day for the rest of their lives, depending on the complexity and extent of their disease.
It is essential to note that for the drug to work effectively and as intended, they must be taken at the right time and in the right dosage. Using these medicines the way a medical practitioner or healthcare provider has recommended them will go a long way in enabling the drug to work as desired.
Sticking to a treatment plan isn’t always easy. Antiretroviral drugs can cause side effects that can be severe enough to make some people stop taking them. But if a person with HIV skips doses of these drugs, the virus can start copying itself in their body again. This could cause HIV to become resistant to drugs. If that happens, the drug will no longer work, and that person will be left with fewer options to treat their HIV.
How Does ARV work?
Antiretroviral therapy curbs the effect of HIV by subduing the virus’s activity in the body. Generally, these drugs are effective at keeping HIV under control. The drug helps to improve the quality of health, and it can guarantee that a person with HIV has a comparable life expectancy to an individual who does not have the virus. Curbing viral activity leads to a low viral load and abridged risk of developing other illnesses and diseases.
The disease attacks the body’s immune system. A feeble immune system generally means that the body finds it difficult to fight off diseases and illnesses, and can range from infections to as serious as cancer. ARV medicines prevent HIV from growing, thus shielding the cells that the virus would target. The less the HIV existing in a patient’s body, the easier it will be for the immune system to recuperate.
Side Effects of ARV Drugs
HIV drugs have constantly been improving over the years, and severe side effects are less probable than they used to be many years ago. Nevertheless, HIV drugs can still cause some side effects. Some of these side effects are mild, while some others can be more severe and even deadly. A side effect can also get worse the longer a drug is taken. This depends on the patient’s body and how he or she reacts to the drugs.
It is possible for other drugs to interact with HIV drugs, which could cause side effects. Other health disorders can also aggregate the side effects of HIV drugs. For these reasons, it is very essential for patients to notify their medical doctor or healthcare provider before that start the use of any drug, supplement or even herbs.
It is also important for patients to consult their medical doctors immediately they notice a new side effect or strange occurrence in their body, which could be as a result of the medications, or not. Patients are advised to do this even if they have been using the medication for a long time. Depending on the drug, it can take a long time before the effects become visible and noticeable.
Possible short-term side effects of antiretroviral therapy can include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- muscle pain
Possible Long-term side effects may include:
- Heart disease
- kidney damage
- liver damage
- nerve damage
- weak bones, a condition that doctors call osteoporosis
- Higher levels of fat in the blood
Side effects that show a more serious problem and may require urgent care include:
- extreme fatigue
- Persistent nausea
- Persistent fever
- Persistent vomiting
- Persistent rash
Popular Questions about the Cost of ARV in Tanzania:
Q: Is ARV medication free in Tanzania? A: Yes, the Tanzanian government provides free ARV medication to its citizens. However, due to limited availability or preference for a specific medication, many people purchase ARV from private pharmacies.
Q: Why is the cost of ARV in Tanzania high? A: The cost of ARV medication in Tanzania can be influenced by several factors, including importation costs, taxes, and overhead costs for private pharmacies. Additionally, some ARV medication is patented, which means they are produced by a single manufacturer, leading to high prices.
Q: Can people living with HIV in Tanzania afford ARV medication? A: The high cost of ARV medication in Tanzania can be a significant barrier for some people living with HIV. However, the Tanzanian government provides free ARV medication to its citizens, and some organizations offer financial assistance to cover the cost of medication for those who cannot afford it.
In conclusion, the cost of ARV medication in Tanzania varies depending on the type and brand of medication. While the Tanzanian government provides free ARV medication to its citizens, many people still purchase ARV from private pharmacies due to limited availability or preference for a specific medication. ARV medication can significantly improve the quality of life for people living with HIV.