Melbourne 23 July 2014 – During the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) announced that for the first time in Myanmar, patients have begun receiving oral treatment for Cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis, a neglected opportunistic disease linked to HIV/AIDS which can cause permanent blindness. Although this drug has been available since 2001 in the developed world, the only treatment option available in Myanmar until now was once-weekly injections directly into the eye, an extremely uncomfortable procedure for the patient that requires carefully trained doctors.
Oral treatment used for first time in HIV-related illness
Following years-long price negotiations with the drug company, Roche, MSF is now providing its patients in Dawei, Myanmar, with valganciclovir, a pill to be taken daily for up to six months. This is the first time MSF has been able to use this pill in any of its HIV/AIDS projects around the world. All of MSF’s patients diagnosed with CMV retinitis in Myanmar will be receiving valganciclovir by 2015.