People living with HIV at risk as drugs run out

THE lives of thousands of people living with HIV and Aids are at risk following the shortage of anti-retroviral (ARVs) drugs over the past two months.

Valentine Maponga

This was announced by the Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV (ZNNP+) in Harare on Wednesday at a press conference they jointly held with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme.

Sabastain Chinhaire, the chairperson of ZNNP+, said the situation was more serious on people receiving the second line of ARV drugs – Abacavir.

Second line ARV drugs are given to patients who would have resisted the first line treatment.

“Over the past two months we have noted with concern that thousands of people living with HIV have been caught up in the on-going shortages of the life-saving second line ARV drug,” Chinhaire said.

“We are equally concerned that  the country will not be able to cope with if the clients on second line have to be moved to third line due to treatment failure and an increase in defaulters due to unavailability of treatment in public health institutions.”

The organisations appealed to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to avail foreign currency to “ensure an uninterrupted supply of the life-saving drugs” to cater for those on second line treatment who are already at risk

“Providing one month’s supply of second line treatment only adds to the financial burden already faced by people living with HIV,” added Chinhaire.

Last week, government, through the Health and Child Care ministry, confirmed that the country was facing some ARVs shortages. Over one million Zimbabweans are on the national anti-retroviral therapy programme.