Food Shortages Impede HIV Drug Adherence

2390 Views Soroti, Uganda

In short
36-year-old Helen Amongin, a resident of Arapai Sub County has been living with HIV for over four years now. Amongin told URN that she has been skipping her treatment in the past two months due to the food crisis.

People enrolled on antiretroviral therapy in Soroti and Katakwi districts are finding difficulty to cope with the medication due to food shortage. Some of the patients have either been skipping the life prolonging drug or abandoned treatment altogether due to lack of food.

Those on antiretroviral therapy are required to take a meal before they take their medication. Soroti and Katakwi districts have about 13,000 and 6,860 people living with HIV/Aids enrolled on antiretroviral therapy. 

36-year-old Helen Amongin, a resident of Arapai Sub County has been living with HIV for over four years now. Amongin told URN that she has been skipping her treatment in the past two months due to the food crisis. She told URN that she is fully aware of the implications of skipping her treatment, but she couldn't continue with treatment on an empty stomach. 

According to Amongin, she used to take her medication after a meal or a cup of porridge. Agnes Akello43, a resident of Aregerego cell in Madera ward, Northern Division in Soroti town has been living with the virus since 2006. According to Akello it has been difficult to adhere to treatment on an empty stomach.

Akello says she usually experiences diarrhea, nausea and general body weakness whenever she takes her drug without a cup of porridge or meal. She has started selling charcoal to raise money for buying food and take care of her basic needs. 

Martin Amodoi, the Soroti District HIV Focal Point Person, says persons on antiretroviral therapy have been hit hard by the current food crisis.
 

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Isaac Ekellot, the in charge ART Clinic at Princess Diana Memorial Health Centre IV in Soroti municipality, emphasizes the importance of ART patients eating something before taking drugs. "Lack of food brings in stress. ARVs are very strong they require someone to eat," Ekellot said. He fears that the failure by the patients to adhere to the drugs may result into drug resistance among HIV/AIDS patients.

Calvin Elenyu, the Soroti District Health Secretary, says a number of people living with HIV have abandoned treatment due to lack of food. He says even the relief food disbursed by the Office of the Prime Minister was insufficient for distribution to all people living with HIV/Aids.



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Michael Ateria, the chairperson Katakwi HIV Patient's Forum says many of his members are failing to adhere to treatment.


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He urges government to consider lack of food as very critical since it endangers the livelihood of HIV patients.

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Soroti and Katakwi are some of the districts that were hit hard by the prolonged drought, which affected food production.

 

About the author

Ronald Odongo
Ronald Odongo is the URN Bureau Chief Lira, Northern Uganda.A multimedia Journalist, Media trainer and investigative enthusiast. Lira,Apac,Dokolo,Oyam, Kwania, Otuke, Amolatar,and Alebtong districts fall under his docket. Odongo has been a URN staff member since 2012 though he had been a contributor since 2006.

Odongo started out as a bicycle reporter for Radio Unity in 2004. He was Radio Rhino FM's senior reporter, Luo news anchor and station producer between 2006 and 2011. Odongo started out as a freelance writer for Uganda Radio Network in 2006.

Odongo is particularly interested in reporting on community health, and education concerns. Good governance and human rights beats are dear to Odongo as a former Lord’s Resistance Army rebels captive 1996-1998.