The Ministry of Health has been urged to address the shortage of HIV viral load reagents to ensure that the gains made in the fight against HIV/Aids are not reversed.
HIV/Aids activist Erick Okioma, said viral load testing was critical for patients adding they have endured a lot due to gaps in drugs supply and the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Covid 19 pandemic has adversely affected most people living with HIV especially in the informal settlements. Due to stigma, a majority of them are unable to visit hospitals to pick up their drugs,” he added.
The government, he said, must move with speed and address the gaps in supply of testing kits, reagents, and (ARV’s) for children and adults living with HIV.
Okioma who runs a HIV/Aids Community Based Organization (CBO) in Nyalenda said his CBO has embarked on offering psychosocial support programme to members to enable them cope with emerging issues.
The program, he added targets to create awareness on HIV, Tuberculosis and other opportunistic infections to enable patients to seek appropriate medical attention on time.
“We fear that the yet to be released data on the new HIV cases might show a steady rise in the number of cases due to the recent Covid-19 lockdown,” he said.
He called for collaboration with government agencies, community outreach support groups, and the media to scale up awareness and advocacy on issues related to HIV.
Kisumu County Government Pharmacist Dr. Emma Obeki said the county has partnered with the national government and development partners to address gaps in distribution of ARVs.
“We have created a multi-faceted prong approach with other state agencies and our health development partners to address the drugs shortage which might arise in our facilities within the county. As a county we laud the collective team spirit exhibited by partners like USAID, KEMRI, Ministry of Health (MOH) and our neighboring counties during this difficult period,” she added.
The decision to release the drugs on a monthly basis, she said, was arrived at to ensure that all patients on ARV treatment do not miss their rations.
She called for further collaboration with other stakeholders to ensure that the war against the virus is scaled up.