OVER 750,000 people living with HIV are at risk of developing resistance to drugs owing to alcohol and non-adherence tendencies among patients in Zambia.
Community Initiative for TB, HIV/AIDS and Malaria (CITAM) programmes officer Kunyima Banda said the challenge of adherence and non-compliance to HIV and TB drugs had contributed to the causes of the viral mutation to a more sophisticated strand of infection that required more complicated medication to treat.
She was speaking during a media training workshop to highlight the HIV/TB situation in Zambia.
She said second level treatment in TB and HIV was a more expensive undertaking which many patients could not afford as easily as the first line.
Ms Banda said there was a growing problem among patients especially those who take alcohol as they forgot to take the drugs in their drunken state or missed the time set for taking the medication.
She said time management was a vital component in TB/HIV treatment and missing out on medication had a huge impact on the patients’ management.
“Most of the people on ARVs in Zambia are on the first line treatment which comprises a three drug cocktail and it is not so expensive for management.
“But if patients keep missing time for medication, continue missing medication because they were too drunk and could not remember to drink their medication, it becomes very easy to develop a more difficult strand of HIV that required more expensive treatment,” she said.
She explained that Zambia was currently grappling to provide treatment for about 100 HIV patients on third line treatment level, which was only available in Lusaka, as it was very expensive even for the Government to acquire.
Ms Banda said the efficacy in the treatment of TB and HIV should also come from the patients who must adhere to doctors’ instruction, as well as was other aspects of a healthy lifestyle including nutrition, exercise and frequent medical checkups.