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Low adherence to antiretroviral therapy by disabled women worries health activists

Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Health rights activists are concerned over the low adherence to Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) treatment among women with disabilities in the Acholi sub region.

Statistics from the Gulu Women with Disabilities Union-GUWODU, a health and rights group for women living with disabilities operating in Acholi sub region supporting persons with disabilities indicates that dozens of the clients have abandoned the life long life-saving treatment.

There are 602 disabled women enrolled on the ART treatment who are registered at the care centre.

Florence Auma, the in-charge of the clinic in Gulu City says that at least 17 of the clients have abandoned the treatment and remained untraceable prompting health concerns among them.

Pamela Acayo, a nurse at the clinic noted that the majority of the clients abandoning drugs whom they traced disclosed that they were unable to transport themselves to pick their drugs, lacked enough nutritious food, and also feared stigma.

Bonny Francis Odong, the programs manager GUWODU said that they have launched a door-to-door delivery and distribution of ARV drugs to the clients on ART in their project area.

He noted that mini-research conducted by them discovered that some of the clients on ARV abandon drugs due to long distances to health facilities, inadequate food, and fear of stigma.

Odong says that they are partnering with The Aids Support Organization (TASO) Gulu to conduct the home deliveries of drugs for a month-long period and also provide counseling for the clients to adhere to the drugs and the dangers associated with abandoning them.

Through the same program, GUWODU through their health workers also provides counseling, HIV testing, problems sharing, routine home check-ups, and provision of food items.

One of the women enrolled on the ARV drugs who preferred anonymity said that they are faced with a number of challenges ranging from immobility, lack of food, stigma from community members, and lack of care which prompts them to abandon treatment.

Adherence to treatment is generally regarded as an important factor in achieving optimal outcomes across many disease states.

In the treatment of HIV, poor adherence to treatment has the potential to impact outcomes on multiple levels.

Poor adherence to Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is associated with less effective viral suppression, which risks the immediate health of the patient, also risks creating permanent treatment resistance to that particular agent or group of agents within a given combination therapy regimen.



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