Fungai Lupande Mashonaland Central Bureau
Discrimination against people living with HIV is increasing due to false myths in some circles that only people living with HIV can be infected with Covid-19, Mashonaland Central National Aids Council provincial manager Mr Edgar Muzulu has said.
Addressing representatives of people living with disabilities at Mazowe Hotel, Mr Muzulu urged people living with HIV and those with underlying conditions to adhere to treatment and take extra precaution to reduce chances of contracting Covid-19.
“Some people are sending wrong messages that Covid-19 only affects people with HIV, which is very wrong, he said. There is no scientific evidence to support that effect,” he said.
“What is known is that people with underlying conditions that weaken the immune system, especially older people are at risk of contracting Covid-19.
“This meeting is meant to equip representative of the two groups with advocacy skills that will enable them to pass on correct information, clear misconceptions and myths on the pandemic.”
Mr Muzulu said people living with HIV were facing challenges that included lack of adherence to treatment due to failure to travel to the nearest health facilities to collect anti-retroviral medication.
Covid-19 disturbed a lot of small business enterprises and people with disability and those living with HIV lost their source of livelihood and support system due to the lockdown
Mazowe District Aids co-ordinator Mrs Mercy Mudhombo said it is not true that Covid-19 only affected people with HIV.
She said evidence suggested that HIV was a lesser risk factor than other pre-existing health conditions.
“People living with certain conditions are among those that are at risk, said Mr Muzulu. Current evidence suggest that HIV/AIDS is a less risk factor than other health conditions.
“However, people living with HIV/AIDS, who are not on treatment and those not virally suppressed are more susceptible to contracting Covid-19.
“Age is a risk factor, therefore, elderly people who are also living with HIV/AIDS are at risk. A low CD4 count, recent opportunist infections and high viral load clients are at high risk due to a compromised immune system.
“Adherence to medication is key, we cannot let Covid-19 undo the gains we have achieved in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We had recorded milestones against reduction of AIDS related deaths.”