‘Adhere to Treatment & Pray for Good Health’: ADOLESCENTS & YOUNG PEOPLE

Many adolescents and young people are defaulting on treatment as a result of faith healing. Adolescents and young people should continue to adhere well to their medication even if they are told that they are healed from HIV.

Addressing hundreds of adolescents and young people at a youth group which was organised and supported by Africaid at Zvandiri Centre, Trisha a 20 year old girl encouraged adolescents and young people to adhere to their medication even if they are told that they are healed from HIV.
“What the religious healers are saying and doing is not right but adolescents and young people must take their medication and pray to God so that they can be healthy. What l can encourage adolescents and young people is to pray whilst taking their medication correctly and consistently” said Trisha.

“At my church if they tell me to do away with my medication l will not comply, what l know is that l should adhere well to my medication. I also participate in church programmes and even if l am the only man present at that time l will continue with my task despite my HIV status” said Madzibaba Michael a member of the apostolic sect and Zvandiri.

In an interview with Radio Zimbabwe, Africaid Zvandiri Programmes Officer Charity Maruva reported that adolescents and young people living with HIV face many challenges including stigma and discrimination, default on treatment as a result of faith healing among others.

“If adolescents default on treatment their health deteriorates and we have received many cases through our Community Adolescents Treatment Supporters initiative of adolescents and young people who are defaulting on treatment as a result of faith healing” said Charity Maruva.

She also added that Africaid works with different categories of adolescents and young people,some of them were born before Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission was introduced.

“The majority of adolescents and young people we work with as Africaid Zvandiri are accepting their status and some of them are in universities, some are getting married knowing that being HIV positive is not the end of the world.” she said.

According to UNAIDS, in the early 1980s when the AIDS epidemic began, people living with HIV were not likely to live more than few years. However, with the development of safe and effective drugs, HIV positive people now have longer and healthier lives. Currently available drugs do not cure HIV infection but they do prevent the development of AIDS. They can stop the virus being made in the body and this stops the virus from damaging the immune system, but these drugs cannot eliminate HIV from the body. Hence, people with HIV need to continuously take antiretroviral drugs. The use of antiretroviral (ARV) therapy has dramatically improved the quality of life for people with HIV and prevented them from dying early.

In line with the Guidelines for Antiretroviral Therapy for the Prevention and Treatment of HIV in Zimbabwe (2013), up to 52% of children die before the age of two years in the absence of any intervention. By five years of age as much as 75% of HIV positive children will be dead if they are not initiated on ART. The goal of ART for children is to increase survival and decrease HIV-related morbidity and mortality.

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