‘Stop defaulting on ARVs’: Patients urged

BY SHARON SIBINDI

MPILO Central Hospital clinical director, Solwayo Ngwenya has urged people living with HIV and Aids not to stop taking Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) saying treatment interruptions will have serious negative impact on their health.

The remarks come amid complaints by People Living with HIV and Aids (PLWHA) that modern day prophets, in the name of miracles, have led to some believers defaulting on ARVs leading to health complications or death.

PLWHA said the victims are given anointing water which prophets declare has healing powers.

In an interview with Southern Eye on Thursday last week, Ngwenya said once one defaults, particularly on the second line treatment, HIV levels can become detectable, CD4 count can decrease and one may not recover to pre-interruption levels, and disease progression may occur.

“The current issue of non-adherence to consistent ARVs taking is very penitent.

It is very important that we inform the public that taking ARVs is supposed to be for the rest of one’s life.

But this is very difficult in our situation because people are not used to taking medication,” Ngwenya said.

“You notice that people may not adhere to ARVs for several reasons. For example, people being at work or people feeling that they are now healthy and they don’t need ARVs. This is not correct, ARVs are supposed to be taken for the rest of one’s life, despite you feeling that you are now healthy. The virus can be undetectable at some point, but then when you stop taking the ARVs, it will start multiplying.”

He said by the time one is put on the next line of treatment, the virus would have mutated.

“It does not respond easily to the new type of medicines. Unfortunately people may go to the second line treatment or third line treatment according to how their bodies respond. But we encourage people on ARVs to adhere to treatment,” Ngwenya said.

He said treatment interruptions are not recommended because it makes HIV more difficult to manage and more dangerous to one’s health over time.

“It is critical that people follow medication as prescribed by the doctors. People may have friends, relatives colleagues who have died because they have gone to seek other alternative remedies, for example traditional healers, going to pray or given water. This should never happen and no one should claim that they can cure HIV and Aids,” he added.

Ngwenya said there is no cure for HIV and one has to rely on ARVs for life. He said people should not substitute them with herbs or any other treatment because it is not recommended.

“I wish that people really take care of people living with HIV seriously and not mislead them because we are losing too many lives,” he said.

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