21 February 2013

Tanzania: Don't Abandon Art, People Living With HIV Urged

Morogoro — TUNAJALI HIV Care, Treatment and Support Services programme has called upon people living with HIV (PLHIVs), who stopped using Antiretroviral therapy (ART), for any reason, to resume it to contain the virus.

Speaking to journalists in Morogoro Region, Tunajali Director of Technical Services, Mr Protas Ndayanga said it is dangerous for the patient's health to stop using ART for any reason. Tunajali, which offers its services in five regions of Iringa, Njombe, Morogoro, Singida and Dodoma, has been facing the problem of people under ART treatment who stop using the drugs for different reasons.

"There are those who are going for prayers and believe that they are cured and others go for alternative medicines that do not help them much, they have to continue with drugs no matter what," he said.

He added that in its drive to bring back to treatment all people who had stopped using the drugs Tunajali also provides some health centres with equipment to enable CD4 testing. Speaking on the strategy, Tunajali Morogoro Regional Manager Dr Musa Ndile said among 19,053 PLHIV who are registered to use ART in 11 care and treatment centres 5,936 are no longer taking ART drugs.

He said there are 43 HIV care and treatment centres in Morogoro but eleven lead in having many patients. "The aim is to suppress HIV effects, so we would like to see these people resuming their treatment and if a patient shifts from one place to another, he or she should inform the centre," Dr Ndile said.

The Tunajali Director of Field Operations, Mr Joseph Ng'weshemi, said they expect the number of PLHIVs who are supposed to start ART to increase due to directions from the World Health Organization (WHO) which prefers PLWHIVs to start ART while they have CD4 count below 350 instead of 200.

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