HARARE – HIV-positive patients in drought-hit Zimbabwe could start abandoning their anti-retroviral regimens in droves, and leaders fear that unless more food becomes available, they will soon be dealing with drug resistance and death.
The Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV (ZNNP+) sent out an SOS to government to prioritise people living with HIV (PLHIV) when distributing food aid.
ZNNP+ executive director Dagobert Mureriwa said treatment loyalty was very critical for people on antiretroviral therapy (ART).
“We don’t want PLHIV on ART to default on their medication because of food shortages at household level,” Mureriwa said.
“The government should prioritise people living with HIV on ART when distributing food the same way other vulnerable groups like the elderly are considered, otherwise it will reverse the gains made so far in HIV response by government and its partners.”
About 842 000 are on ARV treatment.
ZNNP+ national chairman Sebastian Chinhaire said the TB and HIV drugs that were being taken by patients needed good nutrition for them to be effective.
“We have heard reports from our membership that in these provinces (Matebeleland, Masvingo, Midlands and Manicaland) some of our members are finding it difficult to afford one meal a day.”
According to Zimbabwe’s National Aids Council, more than 60 000 people succumb to HIV/Aids each year.