Ntcheu registers 40% default for ARVs treatment

Ntcheu has registered 40 percent Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) default rate, a joint review of Tuberculosis and HIV Global Fund Programme has established.

Muhasuwa: ARVs are drugs for life. This means that they give you back a good quality of life if you are living with HIV, but you have to take them for the rest of your life.

Disclosing the findings at Masimale Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Kwataine on Friday, Ntcheu District ART coordinator Dave Muhasuwa said the development puts the district at risk of not attaining the United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids (UNAids)  90:90:90 target.

The 90:90:90 strategy targets to diagnose 90 percent of all HIV-positive persons, provide ART for 90 percent of those diagnosed and achieve viral suppression for 90 percent of those treated by 2020.

Ntcheu has over 53 000 people on ART treatment but only 32 000 were accessing the drugs at 33 ART outreach points in the district, according to Muhasuwa.

He said efforts to follow up on the defaulters have proved futile because some people provided wrong residential addresses.

“We suspect some of the patients are from neighbouring Mozambican villages. We are having problems to locate them.

“We intend to start using demanding national identity cards from all patients accessing the drugs from all our outreach points,” said Muhasuwa.

He also bemoaned lack of communication from ART clients when relocating from Ntcheu to other parts of the country.

Malawi Network of People Living with HIV and Aids (Manet+) resource mobilisation and advocacy officer Lyness Soko said defaulters put society at the risk of contracting HIV and Aids.

“It is disheartening that some are defaulting, this is derailing our efforts towards attainment of 90:90:90 HIV initiative,” Soko added.

ARV treatments do not cure HIV/Aids. There is still no outright cure for the disease, and it does not go away by itself. But ARVs do slow down the damage that the virus does to the immune system, and allow people to live long, productive lives like everyone else, without succumbing to the disease.

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