About 500,000 people living with HIV in Mozambique have abandoned anti-retroviral treatment in the last two years, which is an estimated 25 per cent of all HIV-positive people in the country.
The data was made available at an event in Maputo on 19 and comes from a survey conducted by the National AIDS Council (CNCS) and its partners, entitled "Why did you stop?" This research covered 39 districts in Cabo Delgado, Nampula, Sofala, Inhambane, and Maputo provinces.
The document notes external factors that contribute to treatment being abandoned, such as work, side effects of the anti-retroviral drugs, and disapproval by partners. Other factors include socio-economic issues, discrimination, and stigma.
The CNCS Planning Unit Coordinator, Ema Chuva, explained that there is work being done in the communities with partners in order to rescue people who had given up on treatment and bring them back to the health units. "It is being successful. But clearly, we realise that it is not enough just to do the work, we need to be able to solve the reasons that made them stop", she added.
For her part, the researcher and head of the study, Marion dos Santos, highlighted recommendations from the research. "We had as recommendations to broadly discuss the concept of masculinity, and to improve the socio-economic situation of women so that they don't become more dependent on their husbands", she said. Another recommendation is to look at people's mental and emotional health because it is one of the factors that contribute to low self-esteem and depression in infected people.
Marion dos Santos also pointed out the continuous work within the communities to increase knowledge through the dissemination of clear information about the importance of treatment for HIV-positive people.
Mozambique currently has an estimated 2.1 million people living with HIV, a majority of them women, including about 130,000 children under the age of 15.