The increasing access to anti-retroviral drugs has been pivotal in the campaign against HIV/Aids.
Thanks to their ability to help to prolong the lives of those infected, contracting the virus is no longer perceived as a death sentence. Indeed, seeing people living with HIV going about their business without getting seriously ill and bedridden can be quite reassuring to their families.
However, the grave fact is that there is still no cure for HIV/Aids and, therefore, the awareness campaign must be stepped up. The anti-retrovirals (ARVs) only give some relief to those infected but will not cure them and must be administered with utmost care. Fortunately, the expertise in dealing with the scourge may be inadequate in some places but it is, at least, available.
We expect our health professionals to give the right guidance to the people to ease the burden of HIV/Aids. And the health workers are continuously being updated on new advances in healthcare to provide the vital assistance. It’s against this backdrop that the caution by the World Health Organisation on the ARVs that should not be administered to women of child-bearing age, including expectant mothers, must be taken seriously.
The Health ministry only last week advised against the use of an HIV drug that has been linked to birth defects.
The WHO clarified that the women already on the drug should not stop the ARV therapy, but should be given greater attention by the health professionals. A situation where the use of a particular drug or line of treatment threatens the gains made in the anti-HIV campaign calls for greater vigilance and expert intervention.
It's quite reassuring, therefore, that Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko has already put the county directors of health on the alert and, hopefully, will follow up on that to ensure compliance with the new guidelines.