HIV/AIDS Advocates in Swaziland Call for Expansion of Antiretroviral Program, Warn of Limited Drug Access Among Women
July 23, 2007
Some HIV/AIDS advocates are calling on Swaziland to expand and strengthen its national antiretroviral program, IRIN News reports. The advocates also say that the country faces serious challenges, particularly in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS among women.
A report compiled by the National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS, which was based on a similar conference held in Swaziland in May, said that some church leaders and traditional medicine practitioners are giving parishioners and clients inaccurate information about HIV/AIDS. "Some traditional healers are making concoctions that are mixed with [antiretrovirals], and these remedies are taken by people living with HIV/AIDS, heightening the risk of drug resistance and reversal of progress gained" by the national program, the report said.
The NERCHA report, distributed at the Manzini conference, also said that hospital and health clinic nurses who provide prenatal care are advising some HIV-positive women against having children or to have an abortion if they are pregnant and have significantly low CD4+ T cell counts, IRIN News reports. Nyatsi said that information on antiretrovirals "still remains inaccessible for many Swazi women living positively," adding, "Most information is generalized and needs to be tailored for women-specific needs." She also said that in addition to "living with the stigma of being HIV-positive, most women are restricted by family members and husbands from going on [antiretrovirals] because of the expense," Nyatsi said. The United Nations estimates that 33.4% of Swazis between ages 15 and 49 are HIV-positive (IRIN News, 7/19).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.