Blantyre — The Blantyre District Health Office says the conduct of some pastors who proclaim to heal their followers from HIV/AIDS is increasing numbers of people defaulting from antiretroviral therapy (ART).
District health officer (DHO) Dr. Medson Matchaya has described the conduct unfortunate.
Matchaya said this in an interview with the Malawi News Agency (MANA) when he was commenting on some of the challenges the National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan (NSP) is facing in realizing the ambitious 90-90-90 treatment target.
He said the tendency is saddening and unfortunate because defaulting puts the life of the patient at risk since ART works better if it is taken consistently.
“If the client defaults on ART, his life is at risk as the virus builds up resistance to the medication.
Therefore, no matter how consistent in future he or she may be on ART, their body cannot respond to medication; as the result we are forced to change the type of drugs given to them,” he said.
Another challenge, according to Dr. Matchaya, is that the country does not have many types of ART drugs and when one develops resistance to the few drugs on the market, it becomes difficult to assist them medically.
“People should know that viral suppression beyond undetectable level does not mean that the virus has been eliminated but that the therapy is having effect on the body. They should not be fooled that they have been healed after being prayed for,” he said.
National Association for People living with HIV/AIDS in Malawi (Napham) executive director, Master Mphande, said there is need for all stakeholders to join hands if the nation is to achieve the 90:90:90 target by the year 2020.
“As Napham we want all stakeholders to play their part so that the NSP is achieved for the betterment of people living with HIV/aids
The national HIV prevention strategy adopted UNAID’S ambitious 90-90-90 target where the nation wants to diagnose 90 percent of all people living with HIV, start and retain 90 percent of those diagnosed on antiretroviral therapy and finally achieve viral suppression for 90 percent of people on ART.