New HIV Treatment Drug Costing Ksh5.1M Per 2 Shots Approved & How It Works

sample of HIV infected blood
sample of HIV infected blood

A new HIV drug that will cost Ksh5.1 million for the first two shots has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The drug, which will be administered in form of two shots, will also require patients to partake yearly booster shots costing Ksh4.7 million each.

According to the FDA, the drug known as Sunlenca will be only administered to HIV-positive adults.

“Sunlenca is an injectable therapy to suppress HIV for patients who suffered drug resistance to other regimens,” a statement from Gilead Sciences, which manufactures the drug, read in part.

A HIV specimen
A photo of an HIV test specimen.

The FDA released a statement lauding the drug as a game changer in the fight against HIV on December 22, 2022.

“Today, FDA approved Sunlenca (lenacapavir), a new type of antiretroviral medication for adult patients living with HIV.

“After the starting dose is completed, Sunlenca is administered as subcutaneous injections once every six months, allowing convenient dosing for patients,” the statement read in part.

The drug functions by obstructing the capsid protein coat of the HIV-1 virus, interfering with the viral life cycle. 

Sunlenca will be a reprieve to many Kenyans since the country is ranked among the most HIV-prevalent states in the world.

According to Worlds Aid Report (2022), Kenya recorded an increase in new HIV infections for the first time in a decade with more than 2,000 cases from 32,025 in 2021 to 34,540 in 2022.

“Nairobi, Kisumu, Homabay, Siaya, Migori, Nakuru, Mombasa Kakamega, Kisii, and Uasin Gishu counties accounted for 57 per cent of the new HIV infections,” the report read in part.

The report further stated that a total of 1.4 million Kenyans are living with HIV.

A section of Kenyans protesting scarcity of ARV drugs
A section of Kenyans protesting scarcity of ARV drugs
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