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HIV: Kaberamaido Yet to Implement 'Test and Treat' Policy

Margaret Apio, 47, a resident of Ochero Sub County in Kaberamaido district tested HIV positive about a year ago but to date she is yet to be enrolled a daily antiretroviral ARV treatment. Dr. Godfrey Balengera, Kaberamaido acting District Health Officer, says the likes of Apio are about 518 in the area who are not put on ARV therapy due to shortages of drugs.
Margaret Apio, 47, a resident of Ochero Sub County in Kaberamaido district tested HIV positive about a year ago but to date she is yet to be enrolled a daily antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

 

With her CD4 still above 300, the mother of three is still on septrin, an antibiotic drug that is given to people with HIV to protect them from getting certain kinds of infections.

 

Medical experts at Ochero Health Centre III have promised to enroll her on ARV therapy once her CD4 count drop to below 250.

 

Apio says she is worried her health condition may deteriorate once maintained on septrin only.

Dr. Godfrey Balengera, Kaberamaido acting District Health Officer, says the likes of Apio are about 518 in the area who are not put on ARV therapy due to shortages of drugs.

 

Dr.Balengera says inadequate ARV drugs delivered by the National Medical Stores (NMS) to the area have crippled the implementation of the new HIV treatment policy of Test and Treat.

 

He says the number of people on treatment increased after the introduction of Test and Treat policy yet the quantity of drugs being delivered to the district has not increased.

 

In Kaberamaido district currently about 5,546 people are on antiretroviral treatment. Grace Esolu, Kaberamaido district health educator, says HIV infection is most common in the sub counties of Ochero, Bululu, Otuboi and Kaberamaido town council.

 

The district has an HIV prevalence of 4.0% since it dropped from 5.9% around 2011 and 2012. The district also has 2% new infection rate.

 

In a bid to curtail escalation of more HIV cases in the area, the district has incorporated religious leaders into the campaign against the infection.

 

Under this arrangement, all religious leaders have been tasked to start including HIV prevention messages into their daily sermons. Dr. Balengera says the new strategy is to ensure the HIV preventive messages reach the right audience.

 

Rev. Elia Iyimu of Kagga Church of Uganda in Ochero Sub County has welcomed the strategy. He urged people to go for HIV testing and remain faithful to their partners.

 

Rev. William Wandera, a Pentecostal pastor in Kaberamaido district asked government to provide adequate drugs to those already infected with the virus.

 

Test and Treat HIV treatment guideline requires all people living with HIV and Aids to be put on antiretroviral treatment regardless of their CD-4 count or stage of infection.         

 

Introduced in November 2016, Test and Treat policy replaced the other guidelines released in 2013, which only provided for the treatment of people in advanced stages of the disease.

The only exception under the 2013 guidelines included children under five years of age, expectant and lactating women and discordant couples.

 

The new treatment guidelines are in line with the global targets, which aim to end the epidemic by 2030.

 

The targets include raising the awareness of those with HIV by 90 percent and enrolling HIV victims on antiretroviral treatment by 90 percent.

 

At least 1.5 million Ugandans are estimated to be living with HIV. The Ministry of Health hopes that the new guidelines will boost enrollment on ARVs from the current 61 percent to 80 percent by 2020.

 

The ministry projects that 'test and treat' approach will prevent 716,000 new HIV infections, avert 98,000 AIDS related deaths and decrease the total number of people living with HIV by 628,000 by 2030. 

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