Nightmares for people living with HIV

MANY people living with HIV and Aids in Harare who cannot afford costs of the CD4 cell count that determines the type of medication they must receive are having a nightmarish experience as they are spending entire nights queuing to get tested.

JOHN NYASHANU

CD4 count is a blood test to determine how well the immune system is working in people who have been diagnosed with HIV.

The free service, where results are released promptly, is understood to be offered only at New Start Centre along Kwame Nkrumah Avenue in the capital.

NewsDay witnessed hordes of patients at around 2am on Sunday at the centre where they narrated their ordeals.

“I arrived here around 1am because if I were to come late, I would not be served as they are only attending to 25 patients a day,” said one patient who claimed to have come from Highfield.

Another patient said she had to come to the New Start Centre as she needed her results urgently.

“I need my CD4 count urgently as I was given tomorrow as my appointment date at the clinic. They need those results before prescribing medication to me. Unfortunately they are not conducting CD4 count to expecting mothers at Kuwadzana Polyclinic where I get my treatment,” bemoaned the patient, who said she had arrived around 3am, but was number 11 in the queue.

Tendai Mhaka, the training and programmes manager of the Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV, said more centres which offer free CD4 count service should be established throughout the country.

“It shows there is an acute shortage of CD4 counting machines. It further proves the need to establish more facilities like New Start Centres which offer all requirements for people living with HIV, from counselling to anti-retroviral treatment and CD4 count, all under one roof,” she said.

Contacted for comment, Dr Owen Mugurungi, the director for Aids and TB Programmes in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, said it would be costly to establish such specific centres.


“The ministry believes in integrating services,” Mugurungi said. “As you are aware, we do not have enough health staff. Coming up with that arrangement becomes more expensive even to patients themselves as they would have to shuttle between that centre and hospitals to get other treatments they may require,” he said.

Mugurungi, however, added that as far as he was concerned, CD4 count was being offered free of charge to those who could not afford.

“To get free medication, one is supposed to have letters from the Department of Social Welfare, which is why I think many of them are avoiding that route,” he said.

Efforts to get comment from non-governmental organisation Population Services International, which runs New Start Centres, were unsuccessful as their telephone numbers rang unanswered.

10 Comments

  1. So the government would rather spend millions of dollars buying Top of the Range twin cabs and SUVs rather than buying the CD4 machines thought it would be ideal if each District Hospital and the main hospitals were to have a CD4 machine, Dr Parirenyatwa hero basa

  2. This is a precarious sitauation-the way the health ministry amongst other ministries acts reluctantly upon such life-threatening issues is apalling!!!

  3. Willard Mubvumbi

    AIDS KILLS STICK TO ONE FAITHFUL PARTNER. Prevention is better than cure.

    1. MY HIV HEALING TESTIMONY
      Am short of words, i am so happy
      because DR OJUKWU has healed me from HIV ailment
      which i have been suffering from the past 7years
      now, i have spend a lot when getting drugs from the
      hospital to keep me healthy, i have tried all means in
      life to be free from this HIV virus, but
      there was no answer until i found DR OJUKWU the
      the man of African who provide me some healing spell
      that he uses to help me, now i am glad telling
      everyone that i am now HIV Negative, i am very
      happy, thank you DR OJUKWU for helping my life comes
      back newly without any form of crisis, may the good
      lord that i serve bless you DR OJUKWU and equip you to
      the higher grade for healing my life. i am so amazed.
      so i will announced to everyone in the world, that are HIV positive to visit DR OJUKWU for permanent cure, even other type of sickness like, cancer of the blood, any type of virus he is perfect, email him on DR.OJUKWUTELLERSPELL@GMAIL.COM or contact him on he is the best, thank you DR OJUKWU.

  4. Point of correction. The CD4 count measures the number of CD4 cells in a sample of your blood drawn by a needle from a vein in your arm. Along with other tests, the CD4 count helps tell how strong your immune system is, indicates the stage of your HIV disease.Presently in Zimbabwe, only clients with a CD4 count of 350 and below are being initiated on ART.if u test positive and your CD4 is above 350, u r started on Cotrimoxazole(Chemoprophylactic).However, new (2013) WHO guidlines are promoting a “test and treat” approach whereby any one who tests positiv for HIV should be initiated on ART, regardless of their CD4 count. this has already started for HIV positive pregnant women under Option B+.it has not been extended to all other clients as the country cannot afford to initiate every HIV positive client on ART.Test and treat will ensure that we invest in ART drugs and not CD4 count machine as they wont be of great need. Th approach will also ensure that people who are HIV positive are less virulent thereby reducing their chances of transmitting HIV to the next person.simple……………

  5. @neuropathetic,,,,not all of us dd ward rounds paPari and whr hammered wth knowledge of PIs,NNRTIs,NRTIs nor where we subjected to immunology lecture abt th pathophysiology of HIV.nethr do we evn kno its genome.
    Point is, for purposes of its, the GENERAL public, the writer wrote relevant, understandable staff. no need for your technocrat yadda yadda,ndezvako nemacheremba izvozvo

  6. @neuropathetic,,,,not all of us dd ward rounds paPari and whr hammered wth knowledge of PIs,NNRTIs,NRTIs nor where we subjected to immunology lecture abt th pathophysiology of HIV.nethr do we evn kno its genome.
    Point is, for purposes of us, the GENERAL public, the writer wrote relevant, understandable staff. no need for your technocrat yadda yadda,ndezvako nemacheremba izvozvo

  7. Not buying one ford ranger would probably save all these people, useless politicians and high up there civil servants getting luxury vehicles frequently when that money could be used to good use.

    1. Using condoms will save them

  8. @ neuropathetic…thanks for the information. I see nothing wrong in you giving more detailed information. Some of us are not ana munhuwo zvake who for pointlessly criticise. I wish test and treat would also be applied to cancer which by now is killing more people than hiv, tb and malaria combined.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.