Zambians outrage over abuse of antiretroviral drugs by HIV-negative people

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-28 20:44:50|Editor: xuxin
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LUSAKA, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Stakeholders in Zambia on Tuesday expressed outrage following reports that drugs meant for people with HIV were now being abused by HIV negative people.

The stakeholders have since accused the Zambia Medicine Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) of failing to control how drugs are distributed in the country.

According to reports in local media, the antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) were fast becoming drugs of misuse among young people who were mixing them with other illicit drugs such as marijuana.

Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (TALC), an organization advocating for equitable access to treatment, care and support for people living with HIV said it was disturbing that the ARVs were being misused.

TALC National Director Felix Mwanza asked the Ministry of Health to further investigate this issue, adding that the issue risk reversing the gains that have been made by the government and its partners in putting people on antiretroviral treatment.

According to him, there were over a million people currently on antiretroviral treatment in Zambia and reports of the drugs being abused will likely reverse the gains made.

His concerns have been shared by the Medical for Quality Healthcare in Zambia which said it was disheartening to hear of reports of ARV drugs being found in the hands of wrong people.

Quince Mwabu, director of the organization said in a release that it was evident that the regulator was failing to regulate and control how medicines were being made available to the general public.

"With various control measures to curb the abuse of ARVs, it is regrettable that there are allegations of HIV negative people accessing some types of ARVs, which they are reportedly abusing," he said.

But Ludovic Mwape, spokesperson of the regulator told Xinhua that it was unfair for stakeholders to accuse the regulator of failing to regulate the pharmaceutical industry.

He said according to the law it was not the mandate of the regulator to control how patients use their medicines once they are dispensed to them.

He however said it was unfortunate that despite various control measures put in place, some ARV drugs were finding themselves in the hands of wrong people.