More than 60 HIV/AIDS patients enrolled on Anti Retro-viral Treatment (ART) at Biiso Health Centre 3 in Buliisa District have abandoned treatment and disappeared without trace.
These are part of more than 500 people enrolled on Ant Retro-Viral Therapy (ART) at the health centre since June 2019.
Mr David Lukumu, the in charge Biiso Health Centre 3 says most of their clients abandoned treatment because of lack of means of transport due to the lockdown that government imposed to stop the spread of Covid-19.
He says efforts by the health workers to make home deliveries to patients hit a snag because of financial constraint.
Mr Lukumu is worried that some of their clients could be suffering silently in the village without treatment while others could be involved in risky sexual behaviour which could fuel infections.
“We considered delivering the drug to the patients at their homes but we were pushed off by lack of funds and we know that our clients are suffering there silently. Another worst thing is that some could now be engaging in sex which can cause more HIV infections,” he says.
Mr Alex Rukundo, one of the people living with HIV says he has failed to pick his drug refills because of transport problems while Ms Grace Akello, who is also living with HIV says she was forced to stop taking ARVs three weeks ago because she could not afford transport and also feed herself and family.
According to Ms Akello, she cannot afford taking the drugs on an empty stomach.
“I can’t walk that long distance to pick my drugs because I don’t have any means of transport. I even don’t have money to take care of myself and fend for my family. I can’t swallow the pills on an empty stomach. The drug is so strong that if you swallow it without having eaten anything, it can kill you itself,” she says.
These join other people living with HIV in Hoima district to skip treatment.
In February, more than 600 people enrolled at Buseruka Health Centre 3 in Hoima district abandoned treatment. They were part of more than 1,000 people enrolled on ART at the facility from August last year.
In 2018, another 250 people enrolled on ART at Kigorobya Health Centre 4 in Hoima district disappeared without trace.
The lifesaving antiretroviral drugs are considered highly effective in controlling HIV replication since they significantly reduce the viral load.
Their use has modified the natural history of HIV as well as significantly reduced the associated morbidity and mortality.
However, experts warn that skipping or abandoning treatment affects the reduction of the viral load seeing the virus rebound and eventually the immune system is affected and can be fatal.