A total of 654 persons living with HIV/Aids in Adjumani District have not collected their antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs from health facilities for the past six months, Daily Monitor has learnt.
They have also not shown up for viral load testing and adherence counselling sessions at various health facilities.
The health officer in-charge of HIV/Aids management, Mr Dlorence Inyani Mane, said the measures instituted by government to stop spread of coronavirus had prevented people living with HIV/Aids from going to health facilities.
“Some of the HIV/Aids patients have been locked out of the district while others, mainly refugees who illegally crossed back to their home country were caught up in South Sudan,” he said.
Adjumani District has at least 3,158 people living with HIV/Aids who are on ARV treatment.
“None adherence to taking of ARVs by HIV/Aids patients increases the viral load in the blood, which destroys the immune cells, making the affected persons vulnerable to opportunistic infections,” Mr Mane added.
The district has now embarked on a sensitisation drive on local radio stations, mobilising people living with HIV/Aids to return to health centres and collect their drugs.
Mr Godfrey Manga Illemaiya, the acting Adjumani District health officer, said with partial easing of Covid-19 restrictions on passenger transport services, they are hopeful that the patients will resume collecting their drugs.
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“Plans are underway so that we can get into partnership with health implementing partners working in the district to ensure that drugs are delivered to persons who have been unable to collect them,” he said
“We shall devise possible means of encouraging HIV/Aids patients to adhere to routine collection of their drugs,” Mr Manga added.
One of the persons living with HIV/Aids, who spoke to Daily Monitor on condition of anonymity, admitted that she had not collected her drugs for the past two months.
“I have received conflicting messages on the spread of Covid-19 which stopped me from leaving my home for fears of contracting the disease,” she said
Since the start of HIV/Aids programme in Adjumani in 2004, at least 5,437 people have been enrolled in the HIV/Aids clinic, of which 4,751 are nationals while 686 are South Sudanese refugees.
Data released last year by the Uganda Aids Commission shows that Uganda registers 1,000 new HIV/Aids infections per week, translating into 53,000 new infections.