Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV (ZNNP+) and the Zimbabwe Aids Network on Thursday urged government to address shortages of Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.
The organisations also blasted government for giving them expired ARVs which they said is causing side effects to patients.
In June, the ministry of Health disbursed expired ARVs and government advised patients that there was no harm in taking them.
The government said it would extend the lifespan of expired ARV drugs by six months instead of the 12 months recommended by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe, but insisted that the medication was still safe for patients
Addressing the people at the launch in Harare, a mother of an HIV positive child,Grace Rimai lamented over the skyrocketing price of ARV drugs.
“The drugs cost as high as US$4 (ZWD$32) and my child has been skipping treatment.
“I even went to the nearest clinics and they said I should give the child half the dosage of the ARV drug so to make the child survive.
“The drugs at the clinic are very bitter and the ones my child took were sweet so she refused,” she said.
Speaker after speaker explained how the ARV drug shortages were affecting them.
“The shortages will definitely compromise the health of those on second line treatment as they will default on taking their medication,” said ZNPP+ official.
Director of Aids and Tuberculosis in the Health ministry, Owen Mugurungi recently made a shocking explanation on how government acquired expired drugs.
“When we acquired the last consignment of the ARVs, their expiry date was already approaching, but we could not avoid bringing them into the country because we needed the medicine.”
ZNPP+ acting director Rumbidzai Mutewe urged people living with HIV to adhere to treatment and make use of community structures such as wards and district leadership to get clarity on any information that is posted on social media.