Malawi urged to expedite switch to new ARVs

The Malawi Network of People Loving with HIV (Manet +) has asked government to expedite the process of switching from the old Stavudine (D4 T) based ARVs to the new WHO recommended Tenofovir based regimen which has lesser side effects.

Manet + has also called on religious leaders to stop judgemental preaching and promoting forceful spiritual healing of HIV saying it is against the principles of human rights to advise or force people living with HIV to stop taking ARVs after being prayed for.

The group  the call in a statement issued on Tuesday which depicts resolutions from its conference with its member organisations held in Lilongwe from August 28 and 29 2013.

The conference came up with 15 resolutions which include asking government to resume provision of nutritional support for people living with HIV as part of the treatment package.

Safari Mbewe, in the middle, Excecutive Director for MANET+
Safari Mbewe, in the middle, Excecutive Director for MANET+

Adds the statement: “Government must ensure adequate domestic resources are committed to ensure continued and uninterrupted supply of the new regimen and Cotrimoxazole Preventive Therapy. Government should expedite the process of enacting the HIV Prevention and Management Bill,” reads the communique signed by Safari Mbewe of Manet +, Master Mphande of Napham, Bruce Tushabe of Manerela +, Annie Banda of Cowhla, David Kamkwamba of Joneha, Harriet Chiomba of Hecawlp and Chikondi Chiumbuzo of TILIPO.

The communique further urges government to ensure that mechanisms for early detection and treatment of all kinds of cancer, including trained personnel are made readily available to halt deaths of people living with HIV resulting from cancer.

Meanwhile, a medical expert in the HIV and Aids field, Molly Lungu, who is a community health nurse in the ARV clinic at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital said the new regimen is better off as it has few side effects.

She said since the hospital started administering the new regimen to pregnant and breastfeeding women in August as a starting point the hospital has not received cases of side effects.

She said:” Unlike the old regimen 1 A which had too many side effects like hump back, central obesity, inflammatory pancreas  and mixed up body salts among others, regimen 5 A has not shown such side effects.”

Ministry of Health spokesperson Henry Chimbali said government will ensure the uninterrupted supply of the new drug.

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