Lack of adherence to anti-retroviral therapy by HIV-infected children is worrying health workers in Kabarole district.
Despite the availability of ARVs in health facilities, some of the infected children are not taking medication while others are deviating from the required prescription which is affecting HIV prevention and care.
Statistics from the district health department indicate more than 800 children are undergoing anti-retroviral therapy, but only 450 adhere to treatment.
Dr. George Barungi, the in-charge of the children\'s HIV clinic at Rwimi Health Centre IV says that non-disclosure of the children\'s HIV status to the children and to the caretakers makes it difficult for children to adhere to treatment. Magezi adds that many children on ARV\'s are curious to know why they are subjected to many drugs every day.
According to Barungi, some parents buy ARVs and even remove labels from drug containers, to ensure their children are kept in the dark about their HIV status. He explains that if adherence to anti-retroviral treatment is to be effective, there must be proper flow of communication between the children and their parents and caregivers, so that children know why they are taking the medications.
//Cue in: children respond very well
Cue out: â€¦it\'s a global concern.//
At Kibito health center IV, Felix Bamanyisa, the in-charge says that they receive more than 6 children each week who are weak and in critical condition for not taking ARVs.
He says that some parents or caregivers who are also infected, struggle with their own illness and are reluctant to ensure the children take medication.
Bamanyisa also attributes lack of adherence to poverty. He explains that since proper feeding and nutrition are some of the key requirements of a person living with HIV/Aids undergoing ARV treatment, some households can\'t afford to feed the children on nutritious foods and taking ARVs on an empty stomach is dangerous and can lead to adverse effects.
//Cue in: â€œthey don\'t have the timeâ€¦
Cue out: â€œâ€¦children need good feeding.â€//
Suzan Baguma, a resident of Rwimi town council says that there is need for child user friendly ARVs. She says that sometimes, his 12 year old son refuses to take the medication because they are bitter. Baguma however says that administration of the drugs is made possible when she crushes the tablets and mixes them with juice to make them appetizing for the child.
David Magezi, the Kabarole district HIV focal person says that children in boarding schools are at a greater risk of failing to adhere to treatment due to lack of support and monitoring.
Magezi says that in a bid to strengthen adherence, schools are being encouraged to create HIV/AIDS focal persons and equip them with skills to handle HIV infected children.
According to statistics from Ministry of Health, about 110,000 children under 15 years are living with HIV/AIDS and about 68% of these are in dire need of anti-retroviral therapy (ART), while only 32% are able to access treatment.