Lack of sufficient food at household level as a result of a heat wave induced drought in Mudzi district is posing a threat to consistent adherence to Antiretroviral therapy (ART) in area, people living with HIV in the area have said.
By Michael Gwarisa in Mudzi
Community Art Refil Group (CARG) Dirstict Focal Person for Mudzi, Shupikai Chaparapata told Journalists during a National Aids Council (NAC) media tour last week that the food situation was bad and people living with HIV were finding difficult to adhere to ART in the absence of sufficient food and a good diet as the drugs demand one to eat.
“We used to get food aid from some Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), but of late, they have stopped coming through and we have been thrown in a serious food crisis. As you know, taking ARVs should also be met with having sufficient food, most people are no longer adhering to their ART timetables because they will be hungry.
“However, through the CARG initiative, we have managed to do follow-ups to those living with HIV to ensure they adhere to their ART. We also teach people on proper and consistent condom use and treatment adherence,” said Chaparapata.
National AIDS Council (NAC) Coordinator, Dr Wilfred Dube said efforts to reduce the epidemic in the district were on full scale but however acknowledged that nutrition and insufficient food at household level could threaten adherence.
“We have a number of efforts in the district which are meant to curb HIV. The CARG initiative was meant to ensure that groups of people living with HIV can come together and ensure they organise and collect ARVs for each other to ensure adherence to ART.
“Well, we could also say the issue of nutrition could be the missing link to the fight against HIV in the area. The food situation in the area is dire,” said Dr Dube.
Meanwhile, National Aids Council District Aids Coordinator (DAC) for Mudzi District, Trader Muzamhindo said the issue of sex work in Mudzi especially Kotwa area was rife and there were fears that more young and underage sex workers would join in the trade as a result of the impending drought.
“17 percent of the total Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) is from this district. There is high cross boarder movement in the area. We try as much as we can to sensitise gold panners and sex workers on HIV as well as conduct screening and testing for them.
“It is however worrisome that more young school going girls are joining the sex work business. There is hunger in Mudzi and most young girls are likely to go into prostitution,” said Muzamhindo.