HIV patients are among the groups most affected by COVID-19 lockdown. As many take their ARVs on empty stomachs, others have gone days without taking their daily doses. They lack transport to health centres for review and to pick their drugs.
As a result, as the government plans to ease lockdown many people on ARVs are likely to change treatment levels, HIV/AIDS activist has predicted.
"After COVID-19, we are likely to see many people changing treatment from first-line to second-line due to poor adherence to treatment." Mother Clara Nakato, an HIV/AIDS advocate with Uganda Network for people living with HIV\AIDS said.
"Many fear to disclose yet they need help during the lockdown. One needs to disclose to access care. People are taking ARVs yet they are starving. One has to eat before taking medicine. Others tell us that they would rather die but not disclose their status." Nakato added, urging the government to restructure its response.
"We understand COVID-19 was abrupt, calling for rushed responses. However, moving forward, as we tackle COVID-19, we need to integrate efforts against other killer diseases because in the end, we shall survive COVID-19 and instead die of other diseases." Nakato said.
Religious leaders caution government on other diseases
Religious leaders under their umbrella body, Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) cautioned the government against forgetting other killer diseases as they fight COVID-19.
"We make this passionate appeal to all leadership not to allow COVID-19 to overshadow the efforts of those fighting against HIV/AIDS." Co-chair IRCU presidents and president of Born Again churches, Apostle Joseph Sserwadda said.
"Malaria still kills 16 people a day. HIV/AIDS is still as dangerous as it was when I was a teenager. All these have the capacity to wipe out communities and must be mitigated and addressed with equal zeal." Serwadda said.
The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda Bishop Kaziimba Mugalu asked the public to stay safe.
"People are locked in their homes. Some are thinking of making COVID-19 babies. No. This is the time to stay safe." Kaziimba said, adding that couples ought to use lock downtime to rekindle their love and support for each other.
They made the remarks during the national Candle Light Memorial 2020 under the; "Ending AIDS: Faith Communities in Action." The scientific International AIDS Memorial Candlelight celebration was held at the Ministry of Information Communication Technology (ICT).