Likoma: The Likoma Pastors Union has advised religious leaders and people living with HIV and Aids in Likoma District to be ambassadors responsible for advocating for adherence to Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) in a bid to reduce new HIV infections in the district.
The appeal was made Tuesday by the chairperson of Likoma Pastors Union, Pastor Robert Likangala when he closed a week-long training on ART which was organized by Malawi Network of People Living with HIV and Aids (MANET+).
He said a person who has tested HIV positive is not a patient and should not be looked at as a patient adding that it is his or her immunity that is weak but stands to be improved through adherence to medication and good eating habits.
Pastor Likangala advised some religious leaders and self-proclaimed prophets against advising faithfuls living with HIV to stop taking ART treatment claiming that prayer is the only treatment of HIV.
From what we have learnt, these claims are dangerous and criminal in nature as this will automatically increase the number of ART defaulters and HIV related deaths. Praying for people living with HIV is not wrong but we need to be counselling and encouraging them to continue adhering to ART while believing in God, he explained.
Earlier, Programs Manager for Research at MANET+, George Kampango said he was impressed with stakeholders’ coordination in addressing HIV related issues in the district.
Through this training which was also attended by traditional leaders and health workers, we have noted that there is always dialogue between the service providers and their clients. This is a healthy situation which needs to be commended, said Kampango.
Kampango said he learnt that people living with HIV complain of late opening of ART clinic due to shortage of staff and called on government to address the issue with urgency.
He then advised couples against sharing single dose of ARVs saying the malpractice is perpetrated by men who refuse to be tested for HIV but feel that they have to put themselves on ART without going through the necessary medical procedures.
This tendency needs to be condemned as it compromises the effectiveness of the ARVs and can in the long run become resistant to some people living with the virus, he said.
One of the topics covered during the training included HIV Law.
Source: Malawi News Agency MANA