Young People Struggle To Access ARVs During Lockdown

YOUNG People Living with HIV have raised alarm over their struggle to access life saving Antiretroviral drugs and other key sexual reproductive health (SRH) services from health institutions during the lockdown period.

By Michael Gwarisa

A number of young people living with HIV told this publication that children and youths living with HIV risk defaulting on medication as they are struggling to access health institutions or get clearance past police checkpoints owing to the strict measures government adopted during the lockdown period.

In most cases, police are not considering hospital books at the police check points. It’s very difficult to get clearance at these roadblocks now. The Ministry of Health and Child care should at least communicate with the ministry of home affairs to allow us to access ART drugs during the lockdown,” said one young person living HIV who requested anonymity.

Speaking to HealthTimes, Zimbabwe Young Positives (ZY+) National Coordinator, Anna Sango however said they have put in place measures to ensure young people living with HIV access Antiretroviral Treatment (ART)  during the national Lockdown period without any hurdles.

 “Our take is that, from the information we gathered through the Needs Assessment Survey, we gathered that most facilities dispensed medication up to three months supply, and we are of the hope that most young people managed to collect before the lockdown.

“However if there are some who did not manage, we strongly encourage them to contact us on the helpline numbers, we supplied as Znnp+ and there is one that was shared through the National AIDS Council (NAC) information platforms and as ZY+,” she said.

She added that they have set up communication platforms to ensure young people stay updated of any changes and developments in the sector.

“If it is inclined to Adherence support and counselling whilst we are on lockdown we have WhatsApp groups and a Community Adherence Treatment Supporters are available on online platforms as well as Peer supporters & Mentors to reach their peers and offer referrals and support.

[pullquote]“If there is need clinics and facilities are available, where they are able to within the given guidelines and health regulations of social distancing, provide services.”[/pullquote]

She added that they were working tirelessly as the Ready Consortium partners on resources to ensure we make available to young people living with HIV correct information.

“We are also communicating through radio platforms and sharing on our web pages and social media pages, there is also an opportunity to discuss and converse around the issues and concerns on adherence.

“We do acknowledge that most of this is accessible  virtually only and we recognise that not all will have access to a smartphone but we are also relying on Ureport as a medium for disserminating information through text messaging, and there is information and contacts being shared via the platform as guided by Mohcc.”

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