Hunger forces HIV pa­tients to de­fault on drugs

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Nqo­bile Tshili Chron­i­cle Cor­re­spon­dent

SOME peo­ple liv­ing with HIV are al­legedly de­fault­ing on an­tiretro­vi­ral (ARV) treat­ment due to food short­ages in Bu­l­awayo, a lo­cal HIV sup­port group has said.

Skip­ping the tak­ing of the life-pro­long­ing drugs can lead to ARV re­sis­tance and raise the need for ex­pen­sive al­ter­na­tive treat­ment.

This emerged on Tues­day dur­ing a meet­ing of mem­bers of a Cow­dray Park HIV pos­i­tive sup­port group, Home of Com­pas­sion that was at­tended by Lu­veve MP Cde Ntan­doyenkosi Mlilo.

Home of Com­pas­sion co­or­di­na­tor Miss Per­se­ver­ance Gama said they were record­ing a steady in­crease in the num­ber of mem­bers who are de­fault­ing due to the pre­vail­ing hard times.

“In the last two weeks we’ve been mak­ing fol­low-ups on our mem­bers who’ve de­faulted on their med­i­ca­tion. We noted that some of them are bedrid­den due to HIV re­lated ill­ness such as TB. They can’t work and some of them don’t have rel­a­tives who are work­ing to source food for them,” said Miss Gama.

“We’re not say­ing ev­ery HIV pos­i­tive per­son is in need but we’ve crit­i­cal cases that need help. We are ap­peal­ing for well wish­ers to part­ner us in en­sur­ing that HIV pos­i­tive peo­ple live healthy lifestyles.”

She said peo­ple liv­ing with HIV were hav­ing chal­lenges check­ing their CD4 count due to non­avail­abil­ity of car­tridges in lo­cal clin­ics.

Miss Gama said this was detri­men­tal to the health of HIV pos­i­tive peo­ple.

Cde Mlilo said he was aware of the prob­lems that those who are liv­ing with HIV are en­coun­ter­ing.

“I’ve al­ready en­gaged of­fi­cials at Lu­veve clinic who run the clinic in Cow­dray Park that they should find out for us how much the car­tridges cost, where they are sold so that we can buy them, so that pa­tients’ peo­ple don’t travel long dis­tances for this,” he said.

Cde Mlilo said peo­ple liv­ing with HIV should not con­sider them­selves as vul­ner­a­ble.

“I want to tell you the truth, HIV pos­i­tive peo­ple are not vul­ner­a­ble. If you say you are, you will be stig­ma­tis­ing your­selves.

“Peo­ple will end up look­ing down upon you be­cause of that. You can be any­thing while you’re pos­i­tive. The vul­ner­a­ble are or­phans liv­ing in child-headed fam­ily, old peo­ple over 70 years who are not be­ing as­sisted by any­one. The only as­sis­tance that you need is med­i­ca­tion that is why you are not charged for ARVs,” he said.-@ nqot­shili

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