The Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign is disturbed and saddened with the news that ARVs are being abused by HIV negative drug addicts as reported by a psychiatric doctor at the Chainama Hospital in Lusaka.
TALC National Director Felix Mwanza has since asked the Ministry of Health to further investigate this issue.
Mr Mwanza however said ARVs abuse in the manner reported by the psychiatric doctor is not uncommon especially here in Southern Africa.
He said one of Zambia’s neighboring Countries ‘Drug Addicts’ ambush Recipients of Care and snatch their medication upon them receiving it from the pharmacies in different health facilities and abuse it in all manner and forms.
Mr Mwanza also noted that there are over a million people currently on ART in Zambia and news of abuse of the ARV drugs by some sectors of the community risks reversing the gains that have been made by the government and its partners in putting people living with HIV on ART.
He also noted with displeasure that this trend does not only rob people living with HIV of the much needed life-saving drugs however, it also puts those abusing these drugs at risk of developing drug resistance in an event that the abusers become HIV positive during the period of abusing the said drugs.
Mr Mwanza said TALC is also concerned with the impact that this development will have on other HIV interventions such as Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) which is supposed to be accessed by HIV negative people.
He said the entire issue poses negative connotations especially on people to be initiated and those already on ART as a society might start seeing them to be incongruent with the rest of others due to the perception that ARVs make them high.
He has appealed to all Recipients of Care to secure their ARV drugs upon receipt from their health care providers.
Mr. Mwanza also appealed to the Ministry of Health and all stakeholders to streamline and strengthen the ARV due diligence monitoring mechanisms in order to prevent such occurrences at
all client management levels.
He said furthermore, all stakeholders administering ARVs should ensure that only those that are HIV reactive are given such medication and in case of a buddy picking up drugs for someone, contact with the actual owner of drugs should first be established.
Mr. Mwanza has called on all stakeholders to intensify community sensitization on the dangers of taking ARVs when one is not HIV positive saying if left unchecked, this trend will lead to severe health complications.
He said ARVs should only be taken by those that are HIV reactive and for Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) which is a prevention intervention by negative people at most risk of infection upon advice from health providers.