Journalists Critical In ART Adherence Information Dissemination

Journalists have been identified as an important vehicle  in communicating and raising awareness around Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) adherence, a top government official has said.

By Patricia Mashiri recently in Chinhoyi

Speaking during a National AIDS Council (NAC) media workshop aimed at informing capacitating Journalists on HIV/AIDS reporting,  Dr John Mangwiro, the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care said there was need to come up with innovative means of communicating the HIV and ART adherence message.

I implore the media to have to make sure that it fulfills its developmental mandate in as far as HIV/AIDS reportage is concerned. The media is critical in HIV/AIDS in as far as information dissemination is concerned. As medical personnel we can come up with all sorts of intervention but if these are not properly relayed to people our efforts are in vain. Therefore, when you put pen to paper, know that you are actually saving lives.

“The anxiety we are experiencing from COVID-19 is not totally different from that we experienced when HIV was first identified. Despite that, we managed to intervene on time and built a resilient respond to HIV for which our country has been recognized as a best practice. One of these responses relates to the importance and role of media in disseminating health information,” said Dr Mangwiro.

Defaulting on treatment has been identified as a leading of Drug Resistance HIV. HIV drug resistance refers to the ability HIV viruses to continue multiplying despite the presence of drugs that usually kill them (ARVs). It is caused by changes in the virus’s genetic structure and these are common in HIV because HIV viruses replicate at an extremely rapid rate.

Meanwhile, Rumbidzai Mugwagwa, Assistant Programs Officer for Prevention of Mother
to Child Transmission (PMTC) in the Ministry of Health and Child said information 
is what determines people’s attitude.

“People should know that there is HIV drug resistance and adhere to their medication. Scientists are making great strides in improving the medicines as PLHIV used to take 3 ART drugs per day and now they have been reduced to 3 in 1 pill. Research is being done in trying to make it easier for them. There should be effective communication such that people know the importance of taking ART drugs on time so as to maintain drug level as well as spreading information to others,” Mugwagwa said.

The world Health Organization in 2015 classified Zimbabwe as having reached moderate HIV drug resistance levels in ART with naïve patients of 9.4% on a HIV Drug Resistance Pre-Treatment Survey.

Mr Admire Bgwirire, the Laboratory Scientist in the Ministry of Health and Child Care during his presentation on HIV Drug Resistance emphasized that people should not default on their medication as it generates challenges with building resistance to the medication.

“The country adopted the World Health Organization 2019 and 2020 ART guidelines where Dolutegravir(DTG) is indicated for first line, second line and third line for all populations including children, adolescents and women of child -bearing age.

“DTG is known to have a high genetic barrier to developing ARV drug resistance and HIV viruses cannot develop resistance to it,  easily phasing out the Niverapine which was previously used,” Mr Bgwirire said.

He added that Currently in Zimbabwe, there is no public testing for HIV Drug resistance however there has been support from Global Fund grant Ministry of Health is a process of establishing one.

 

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