11 December 2018

Uganda: Kitgum Locals Use Arvs to Brew Alcohol, 'Fatten' Pigs

Some residents of Kitgum District are said to be using Antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs in brewing alcohol and enhancing the weight of domestic animals.

ARVs are meant to slow down the spread of the HIV virus but according to Mucwini Sub-county chairperson Richard Komakech, the residents mix them with animal feeds to fatten pigs and chicken so that they attract high prices.

Mr Komakech said the ARVs are also used in brewing alcohol so that it ferments fast and in cooking beans so that they can get ready fast.

He said as a result, this has reversed the gains in the fight against HIV/Aids in the area. HIV prevalence rate in the district stands at 7.3 per cent, higher than the national rate of 6.7 per cent.

The district HIV focal person, Dr Henry Okello Otto, said the practice is illegal and risky.

"These drugs contain toxic substances, which affect the liver. So, those using them for brewing alcohol, cooking beans and feeding pigs or chicken are at risk of contracting chronic liver diseases," he said.

The HIV/Aids specialist at St Mary's Hospital Lacor, Dr Emma Ochola, also said a person should never take ARVs if they are not HIV positive.

"Medicines are toxic, especially when taken and not meant for that particular sickness; they become dangerous to the body in any form they are consumed," he said.

Dr Ochola added that even those meant to take the ARVs might develop drug resistance due to inadequate dosage.

Dr Okello noted that men in the area are not interested in testing for HIV. The Resident District Commissioner, Mr Christopher Omara, called on the district health department to strengthen the sensitisation of the benefits of ARVs intake and dangers of misusing them.

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