New safety concerns have emerged about the HIV drug dolutegravir, which the government plans to roll out in April. In 2018 drug regulators warned of potential harm to babies born to women who took dolutegravir during early pregnancy, after preliminary findings from a small study in Botswana showed an increased risk of neural tube defect. Now there is growing evidence that dolutegravir and other integrase inhibitors are associated with significant weight gain, particularly among black women, according to research published the Journal of Virus Eradication in January. The findings have implications for both individuals and public health, given SA’s obesity epidemic: more than two thirds of women, and almost a third of men are overweight or obese, according to the 2016 Demographic and Health Survey. Dolutegravir is to replace efavirenz in a generic three-drug cocktail for eligible patients starting treatment.It is an important part of the government’s plans to expand treatment to more ...

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