Wednesday November 21 2012

Residents abandon ARVs over famine

By Musa Mpagi


A number of people living with HIV/Aids in Rakai have been affected by a food shortage in the district, which has seen some of them give up their daily medication.
Mr Paul Matovu, the head of Uganda Cares Centre at Kalisizo Hospital, told the Daily Monitor that several people at the centre were in bad shape and complained of having too little to eat.

The district is currently experiencing a severe food shortage due to a prolonged drought.
Anti-Retroviral therapy is effective in supporting the health of people living with HIV/Aids and it is recommended that people taking the drugs eat a balanced diet.

Uganda Cares is a partnership between the Aids Health Care Foundation and the Ministry of Health and the initiative was designed to provide ARVs alongside comprehensive clinical care for people living with HIV in the rural districts.

The Rakai Health Sciences Project and other NGOs have trained the ARV recipients on nutrition and farming skills. “Some people have the misconception that ARVs should be taken when one has access to food such as eggs, fish, meat and milk. When they run out of these, they consider it safer not to continue with the medication,” Mr Matovu said.

Mr Fred Kasozi, the coordinator of the Rakai Counsellors’ Association, said the situation had been aggravated by the long distances covered to acquire ARVs. Kitovu Mobile, an NGO, has been providing free food to patients but the distribution was limited to a few because of the costs involved.

Studies indicate that noncompliance to ARV therapy can lead to the development of resistant HIV, drug failure and the progression of disease.