It is now emerging that this trend of defaulting on medication has been happening in the country especially among HIV patients, with far reaching consequences. This writer spoke to two such cases, where patients admitted defaulting on their medication.
Akinyi*, who tested positive for the HIV virus, is one of the many patients who have been forced, time and again by circumstances, to default.
The mother of three, who is now breast feeding her one and half year old lastborn, has been facing a lot of hostility from her husband as a result of her status.
“After disclosing my status to my husband, he accused me of lying to him and that the news about my status was all lies,” Akinyi told this writer.
Akinyi’s husband insists that the doctors lied to her and due to that, adhering to medication has turned out to be an extremely difficult exercise.
“My husband denies me food that I have prepared and he even throws away my ARVs medication arguing that a positive person is meant to die,” she tearfully narrated.
Her sentiments are similar to those by Rosemary*, a tailor living with the virus, who admits that she has at times failed to adhere to her ARVs prescription.
“What people don’t know about these medications is that they are strong and need one to eat properly,” says Rosemary. She holds that with the nature of her job it has been hard for her to follow the prescription as recommended.
“At times I need to finish a cloth for a customer at a certain duration and if I am to take my medication then that means I will have to rest for a while before I continue with my duties hence my customers will be angry and they would not understand the situation,” she says.
Dr. Francis Nyamiobo, a research physician with Kenya Aids Control Project says that the reason why most HIV patients default their treatment is because they experience fatigue from the medication.
Others patients, he adds, feel the burden of being under so many drugs, due to opportunistic disease which they experience along the way hence they opt to stop the ARVs and take medication that will tackle the disease they have at the moment.
“Once a patient has started ARVs treatment, they should take the medication for life because once they default for a long period, a different type of drug, which is more expensive and more toxic to the body than the previous one, may have to be prescribed,” he says.
He says that patients are required to take 95 percent and above of the prescribed medication, that is; if a patient is taking medication twice a day then he/she should not miss more than three doses.
Dr. Nyamiobo further urges all HIV patients who are on ARVs to continue taking their medication regardless of the side effects since the medication helps in lowering the viral in their body.
Ms Dzilla is a journalist.