Lack of Food Forcing People Living with HIV to Abandon Drugs

1785 Views Moroto, Uganda

In short
Helen Patricia Amutuhaire, the Programs Officer with Reach A Hand Uganda, one of the implementing partners under KARUNA, says much as hunger could be one of the issues affecting PLWH, there are other factors.

Lack of food has forced some of the People Living with HIV/AIDS- PLWH to skip or abandon the life prolonging Antiretroviral Therapy-ART in Karamoja. 


Skipping or abandoning treatment affects the reduction of the viral load and protection of the immune system. HIV has the potential to change and develop resistance if the viral load isn't suppressed fully.

 
A number of PLWH in Moroto are unable to adhere to medication because of hunger in their households. Madinah Adong, the Secretary Moroto Association of PLWH, says most of the members survive on either single meal or local brew in a day.

 

She notes that even the meal if any, is made of maize due to the high poverty levels, which makes it difficult for residents to afford a balanced diet. She says the association has lost three people this month due to failure to take medication. 



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Joyce Longole lost her husband a fortnight ago. Longole says she doesn't have enough food that will enable her to take drugs effectively. Although the health condition of the mother of four is deteriorating drastically, she's yet to enroll for ART.  



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Anne Nakoroi, a Village Health Team-VHT member in Bazaar Village, which hosts Longole, says the food situation is affecting adherence to medication among PLWH.

 

She told URN that Longole's husband, John Lomonyang Lokut passed on after refusing to take drugs. Nakoroi says most of her clients hardly live three years after testing 
positive.


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In 2014, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and partners launched the 90 - 90 - 90 targets. The aim was to diagnose 90% of all HIV-positive persons, provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 90% of those diagnosed, and achieve viral suppression for 90% of those treated by 2020.




Charles Omudu, the HIV focal point person for Moroto district, says acceptance and disclosure is one of the challenges affecting PLWH.  In 2016, Karamoja United Nations HIV Project (KARUNA-HP) was conceived by the ten UN agencies to reduce new infections among 10-24-year-olds in Karamoja by 70 per cent by 2020.



 
The program working through a host of local partner organizations aims at improving the UN and Multilateral System coordination of HIV/AIDS.



 
Now, Helen Patricia Amutuhaire, the Programs Officer with Reach A Hand Uganda, one of the implementing partners under KARUNA, says much as hunger could be one of the issues affecting PLWH, there are other factors. She says they are conducting research to understand the plight of PLWH.


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HIV prevalence in Karamoja now stands at 3.4 percent from 5.3 percent in 2011. Overall, HIV prevalence is high among men aged 45-49 years at 14% while the prevalence in females aged 15-24 years is four times higher than males in the same category.



Although the food situation is not very bad as per now, there is looming hunger in Moroto district despite the heavy rains that started pouring in the region in February, 2018. A number of farmers haven't realized any harvest especially of sorghum, the staple food for Karamoja.