Group warns of HIV crisis

HARARE - Bottlenecks disrupting HIV treatment and other support systems may trigger another crisis at a time when Zimbabwe is basking in the glory of declining prevalence rates, a report has revealed.

The document, titled Opportunistic Infections (OI) and Art (Anti-retroviral treatment) Services Delivery Community Monitoring Report, unveiled a myriad of problems now threatening Harare’s fight against HIV and Aids.

Inadequate viral load and CD4 count machines, limited vehicles for community visits, insufficient drugs, lethargy and shallow knowledge on advantages of religiously taking medicine are some of the problems affecting Zimbabwe’s HIV campaign, notes the report.

Lack of sufficient knowledge in administering and monitoring patients on life-prolonging drugs has also become a cause for concern.

The report, prepared by Zimbabwe Aids Activists Union (Zaau) with support from statutory body, National Aids Council, also noted an increase in cases of deformities caused by new generation drugs.

“In Gwanda District there is no viral load machine, the nurses did not know any such machine existed.

 Patients are switched on the regimen without repeat CD4 count, viral load, HB (haemoglobin) check up or liver function check up.

“Approximately 80 percent of the OI patients at this site had side effects.

“There is a high number of defaulters due to distance and lack of transport,” reads part of the report.

Zaau said though health institutions are trying their best under a harsh environment, a crisis is looming unless government and aid partners intervene urgently.

“The shortage of drugs cannot be considered as being at crisis levels but have the potential of escalating into a crisis if nothing is done to correct some of the bottlenecks highlighted.

“There is urgent need to address the side effects that some clients are experiencing,” reads part of the report.

The country has recorded a decline in the HIV prevalence rate from as high as 23,2 percent in 2003 to 14,3 percent in 2009, according to United Nations Population Fund statistics. - Wendy Muperi

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