14,000 Patients Abandon HIV Drugs in Mozambique

14,000 Patients Abandon Theur HIV Drugs in Mozambique (News Central TV)

In the first three months of this year, nearly 14,000 HIV patients in Mozambique‘s central province of Zambézia reportedly stopped taking antiretroviral medication.

According to Dr. Cheinaze Verssimo, the provincial leader of the HIV Program in the region, male patients make up the majority of individuals who have stopped taking the drugs.

He attributed the high rate of defaulters to HIV-related stigma and discrimination. In Zambézia province, almost 300,000 HIV patients receive antiretroviral therapy.

“The challenge we have now is in relation to those patients who drop out. If the person abandons treatment, the virus automatically gains more strength, the person gets sick and can even, in some cases, lead to death,” Dr Veríssimo said.

Health officials would provide medicines to patients at their homes if they are unable to go to health facilities due to illness or fear of being stigmatised, he said.

Mozambique Minister of Health Dr. Armindo Tiago

Mozambique is among the 10 countries with the highest HIV burden in the world, with a HIV prevalence of 13.2% in adults aged 15 to 49 years. Maputo City, the capital and largest city of Mozambique, has an even higher prevalence with 16.9% of the general population estimated to be infected.

Mozambique is a country particularly hard-hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. According to 2008 UNAIDS estimates, this southeast African nation has the 8th highest HIV rate in the world. With 1,600,000 Mozambicans living with HIV, 990,000 of which are women and children, Mozambique’s government realizes that much work must be done to eradicate this infectious disease.

To reduce the disease within the country, Mozambique has partnered with numerous global organizations to provide its citizens with augmented access to antiretroviral therapy and prevention techniques, such as condom use.

A surge toward the treatment and prevention of the disease in women and children has additionally aided in Mozambique’s aim to fulfill its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Nevertheless, HIV/AIDS has made a drastic impact on Mozambique; individual risk behaviors are still greatly influenced by social norms, and much still needs to be done to address the epidemic and provide care and treatment to those in need.

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