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People living with HIV demand access to holistic health care

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Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Persons Living with HIV and AIDS want government to provide them with holistic health care instead of concentrating on HIV alone.

Through their umbrella organization, the National Forum for People Living with HIV/AIDS Network in Uganda-NAFOPHANU, they want the government to start providing them with care for other health-related diseases like diabetes and depression.

Proscovia Kisakye, a 38-year-old mother of three living with HIV was in February 2019, diagnosed with ovarian cysts. Before she was diagnosed, she had bled continuously and went off her ARVs.

“I was weak all the time. I was losing a lot of blood. I used to use a big roll of cotton every day. I felt bad and stopped swallowing my drugs because I was scared they would worsen my condition.”

According to Kisakye, her bleeding had lasted for more than four months. However, when she went to the health facilities to pick her drugs, she was sent to Uganda Cancer Institute to get a diagnosis, but she could not afford to pay for a scan.

Data from the health ministry shows that the country’s prevention and treatment of AIDS-related life-threatening infections of diseases is focused on tuberculosis, Cryptococcal meningitis and severe bacterial infections.

Dr Stephen Watiti a person living with HIV and also the chairman of the NAFOPHANU says that government is focusing on attaining their 90:90:90 and in the process leaving people to die from other diseases like depression and diabetes that are as equally dangerous as HIV.

According to government’s 90:90:90 goal, by the year 2020, 90 percent of all persons living with HIV should; know their status, be enrolled on ARV treatment and have viral load suppression.

According to UNAIDS Uganda’s 90:90:90 goal stands at 84% of all persons living with HIV know their status,87% of people with HIV know their status and are enrolled on treatment while 88 % of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads.

Dr Watiti says that some of the reported HIV deaths are not caused by the deadly virus but by ignored health condition such as diabetes and depression.

Prolonged use of ARVs is associated with kidney problems, liver damage, heart disease, diabetes, increase of fat levels in blood, osteoporosis, peripheral neuropathy and mental related illnesses such as insomnia and depression.

Dr Nelson Musoba, the Director-General Uganda AIDS Commission says that health facilities should look at providing all necessary care for persons living with HIV.

It is estimated that 23,000 people living with died in 2018 while 1.2 million Ugandans are enrolled on treatment.

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