Zimbabwe: Nac Discourages HIV Supplements

25 January 2022

The National Aids Council has discouraged people who are on anti-retroviral treatment from taking herbs or other drugs as cure for HIV and AIDS.

Reports also suggest that there are patients who are suffering from damaged liver and kidney due to the use of such herbs.

In a statement, NAC said ARVs on their own are very effective in the treatment of HIV infections and they do not need any assistance from herbs or other medicine provided they are taken correctly according to recommendations.

"Most of these drugs are toxic, they have not been studied in the laboratory to assess efficacy, proper dosages and safety, but at the moment there are patients who are suffering from organ damage due to these herbs.

"Some of the manufacturers for these drugs may have submitted the samples for testing, but it is premature to start selling the product before the assessments are completed.

"Most of these herbs are not registered with the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe so most people are confused and attracted by the way some of these herbs are packaged and marketed so they think they are registered and approved for use by regulatory authorities," read the statement.

Zimbabwe National Network of People living with HIV (ZNNP+) Vice National Chairperson, Ms Moreni Masanzu, also shared the same sentiments saying there is no need for people who are on treatment to acquire herbs and drugs as this may cause overdose leading to serious problems.

"ARVs are adequate, there is no need to supplement because no one knows how these herbs can work. We can encourage people to eat traditional foods only whilst taking their treatment," she said.

Ms Masanzu said people who are on treatment should not listen to people who are marketing their herbs claiming they can cure HIV and Aids.

"That is a marketing strategy persuading people to buy those herbs and drugs so I do not urge people to take them as they may cause serious health problems," she said.

She said a lot of awareness is needed to educate traditional healers and faith healers to encourage people to continue taking their ARVs.

Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director, Mr Itai Rusike, commended NAC and the Ministry of Health and Child Care for making sure that HIV infections and prevalent rates significantly go down.

"The country has battled the HIV/AIDS pandemic and registered successes of reduction in both incidents and prevalence," he said.

Drug interactions can cause resistance and this complicates a successful intervention that would have saved lives.

Zimbabwe has made great strides in the HIV response, with prevention, treatment, care and support significantly contributing to lessening the burden of HIV.

People should not reverse these gains by dabbling in alternative treatment remedies that have not been scientifically proven to be effective and can place one's life in danger.

The country is also experiencing a significant decline in new HIV and AIDS infections, but commitment among citizens is required for a further reduction in new cases.

Of the 1,3 million HIV positive people in Zimbabwe, 97 percent are now on anti-retroviral therapy.

Latest statistics from the UNAIDS annual report has shown that Zimbabwe is one of the seven countries in East and Southern African region that have managed to achieve the global HIV and Aids fast track targets of reducing transmission.

The fast track targets, popularly known as the 90-90-90 targets, saw countries committing to ensure that 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 90 percent who are HIV positive are on anti-retroviral treatment and 90 percent on treatment are achieving viral suppression.

The other six countries that have achieved these targets are Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia.

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