Some HIV positive people who are taking a second line drug called abacavir say their health is deteriorating because of drug interruptions and defaulting on treatment as they are failing the traditional three months’ supply at government hospitals.
Last month the government assured people living with HIV that a consignment of 26 300 bottles of the second line drug were expected to arrive in the country on the 25th of August but despite the deliveries, stock levels are reportedly still very low and people living with virus are getting two weeks supply of medication instead of three months.
Some of the affected people also claim that children living with HIV are being given antibiotics meant for adults.
There are now fears that people using the second line treatment may become resistant and would need to be commenced onto third line treatment, which is more expensive to manage.
Speaking at a media briefing organised by the Zimbabwe National Network of People living with HIV and Lawyers for Human Rights, HIV activists expressed concern at the current stock levels and have implored government to prioritise foreign currency allocation for critical medicines.
All the second line drugs are procured using funds from the National AIDS Trust Fund because co-operating partners are only assisting with the first line drugs.
The National AIDS Council confirmed the situation has not yet normalised but assured people that efforts are being made to ensure that delivery of normal supplies resume as soon as possible.
A survey around some government hospitals showed that people living with HIV are getting below their normal supplies with some getting only two weeks supply and others getting a month’s allocation.
About 350 000 people out of a million who are on the government’s ARV programme are on second line treatment.