The health department is pushing forward with its plans to roll out a combination antiretroviral (ARV) drug despite concerns that it may cause birth defects. This month pharmaceutical companies were awarded a three-year tender to provide the state with triple combination ARVs, the bulk of which are tenofovir/emtricitabane/efavirenz and dolutegravir/lamivudine/tenofovir (DLT)." Department spokesperson Popo Maja said the department decided to provide DLT while it waited for the results of an ongoing study. "This drug does present a number of advantages over the current treatment regimen in other patient groups, except women of child-bearing age. The risks relating to mothers and their infants have not been confirmed through a proper study, he said. Women of child-bearing age will be excluded until the results are finalised. A study conducted in Botswana found four cases of neural tube defects in the babies of 426 women who conceived while taking the drug. Neural tube defects affect th...

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