WHO Recommends Drug for HIV Treatment

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Based on new evidence assessing benefits and risks, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended the use of the HIV drug, dolutegravir (DTG), as the preferred first-line and second-line treatment for all population, including pregnant women and those of childbearing potential.

According to a report on the WHO website, initial studies had highlighted a possible link between DTG and neural tube defects (birth defects of the brain and spinal cord that cause conditions such as spina bifida) in infants born to women using the drug at the time of conception.

The report stated that this potential safety concern was reported in May 2018 from a study in Botswana that found four cases of neural tube defects out of 426 women who became pregnant while taking DTG, adding that based on these preliminary findings, many countries advised pregnant women and women of childbearing potential to take efavirenz (EFV) instead.