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AHF Rwanda Brings New Hope to HIV patients Affected by Covid-19

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Charles Karangwa (not real name) is a former bar attendant in one of Kigali’s popular bars who lost his job in March as a result of closure of bars under the current covid-19 lockdown countrywide.

As a person living with HIV/Aids (PLWH), Karangwa, 30 Years, says that staying on ARVs medication has been the hardest challenge after loosing his income for the months and thus affecting requirements to take a daily dosage.

I have, at times, had to avoid medication because of lack of food. It can be hard to take ARVs without eating. It makes you feel very dizzy since food is one of the requirements of staying on treatment,” Karangwa narrates.

However, Karangwa says that he has been able to survive with help from friends and being among the first beneficiaries of hundreds of tonnes of food items that were distributed in April with the help of government and charity groups.

Persons living positively with HIV/Aids take medication on a daily basis and required to eat high protein and vitamin foods, however faulting medication can be dangerous increasing the risk of side-effects.

Without a consistent income Karangwa says he is forced to skip dosage though it has side effects on his health.

Emile Musabyimana, the Head of Remera Health Center in Kigali, who deals on a daily basis with HIV patients like Karangwa confirms that some have stopped medication due to less access to food as result of loss of incomes under covid -19 period

The biggest challenge is to treat a patient who has not eaten. Most of our patients are vulnerable persons who lost their daily incomes and we have some who have recorded cases of some who decided quit medication,” Musabyimana said.

To encourage HIV patients to stay on medication, the ministry of health in collaboration with AIDS HealthCare Foundation (AHF)-Rwanda today donated food items worth Rwf17.5m to be distributed to 29 health centers.

The food items which include high nutrients porridge, cooking oil ,Beans  and Soap  will be distributed to over 1700 most vulnerable patients among the 32,000 patients on ARV across all AHF Supported Facilities .

According to Dr. Brenda Asiimwe-Kateera, the AHF Rwanda Country Program Manager,   mobilization of such essential support will continue mobilized with local and international partners so as to enable Rwandans to fight HIV/Aids.

This food is specifically for patients in need and who have been serious affected by Covid-19,” Kateera said.

At least 600 children born with HIV/Aids or of parents living positive will benefit from this support under a local organization like We-ACT for Hope Clinic one of AHF Supported Facilities, which supports persons and families with HIV/Aids.

Chantal Benekigeri, the organization’s Director, the support comes at timely moment when local organization have been overwhelmed with the impact of Covid-19. I thank AHF for having been at the front line of providing different supports to the Health Facilities as well as people living with HIV and I’m calling up on other organizations to try and support people as AHF did.

By Daniel Sabiiti

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