Owing to the Corona Virus (COVID-19) guidelines on social distancing strategy, HIV care organizations have resorted to giving their clients’ more Anti-retroviral drugs to stay away from the health facilities longer.
At Baylor Uganda, an entity that focuses on HIV in children, Dr Sabrina Kitaka a senior paediatrician told Uganda Radio Network this morning that clients have been given refills to last them 90 days to minimize patient-doctor contact.
“What we will do now is to counsel them to adhere”, she said this can be done virtually by a phone call or by ambassadors in the community who have been chosen based on the differentiated service delivery care model.
This model was earlier proposed by the Ministry of Health in 2017 to make HIV care client centred and avoiding crowding at health facilities by appointing ambassadors and groups in the community to pick each other’s drug refills but it was never adopted with criticisms of drug misuse and diverting them to things that they are unintended for.
But, Lillian Mworeko the Executive Director of Civil Society Organization International Community of Women Living with HIV in East Africa (ICWEA) calls for shifting HIV service delivery models now so that all people living with the virus can immediately access two to three months of medication including pregnant women who are excluded from multi-month scripting in most cases.
However, even as the real impact on COVID -19 on people living with HIV is still unknown when the new disease hit the country, health experts warn people living with the Virus could be badly affected because their immune system, especially for those not adhering to treatment, is usually low.
At the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), its Director Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu said they are embarking on studies to establish how exactly the disease that started in China and has turned into global pandemic affects people living with HIV.