HIV patients stock up on medication as Covid-19 rages

People living with HIV and AIDS can now collect three month`s supply of medication as a way to limit their movement during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 presents a threat to people with serious underlying health conditions.

Coupled with the lockdown order enforced by authorities to limit movement, there was concern that people suffering from chronic illnesses will fail to access their life-saving medication.

But according to the National AIDS Council (NAC) Bulawayo Provincial Manager, Sinatra Nyathi, said plans have been made for people living with chronic illnesses to access their medication.

“As you realise we are in this epidemic of HIV and Covid-19 so we need to decongest the health facilities as much as we can so that our clients living with HIV and TB limit their chances of contracting coronavirus,” she said in an interview with CITE.

NAC Bulawayo provincial manager Sinatra Nyathi

Nyathi said the organisation was working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the City Health Services Department to say where possible, stable clients can receive treatment for three to six months, depending on their health stability.

“We are saying if you go to the OI clinic, you can collect your three or six months drugs for HIV or TB and be able to stay home without any stress because Covid-19, HIV and TB has also caused a lot of mental stress. Movement is limited and transport is not available so there’s congestion,” Nyathi said.

By giving patients drugs for three months or so, they can be able to relax for that period up to six months without worrying about how to access their medication, she added.

“Maybe something can also happen in that period, like a breakthrough in controlling the epidemic,” Nyathi said.

The provincial manager noted NAC did not currently have statistics of how many people with HIV and AIDS had been infected or succumbed to Covid-19.

So far, as of August 3, 2020, Zimbabwe has 80 deaths from Covid-19 out of 4 075 confirmed positive cases  

Nyathi said that as for now, authorities were listing Covid-19 as the cause of death even when one had underlying conditions.

“Statistics are factored when you die of Covid-19 and that is recorded as such. Authorities look at the pandemic as the cause of death and list it that way. But I’m sure we can work with the ministry of health to find out how many of those Covid-19 cases who succumbed to the disease are HIV positive.

“We know people with an underlying condition are more at risk of Covid-19 so at the moment we don’t have those statistics, but we are also working with the statisticians collecting data to give us the statistics. We will be using that as evidence to say or explain how much the risk of HIV and Covid-19 is,” said the NAC provincial manager.

According to health experts, HIV and AIDS is recognised as a manageable chronic condition that remains powerful and pervasive enough to be classified as an epidemic, with close to 38 million globally living with the virus.

However, there is still no vaccine to prevent HIV and AIDS, with prevention against it given much emphasis.

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