Aids patients reject ARVs, die after Loliondo visit
Some Kenyans living with Aids have died after they persistently
refused to take anti-retroviral drugs believing a concoction they drank in
Loliondo in Tanzania had healed them, the government has said. National Aids Control Council yesterday confirmed that ARV
centres across the country have reported cases of patients defaulting on treatment.
NACC now fears cases of drug resistance could increase,
eroding the gains already made in the fight against HIV. “Many people are
dying. The latest cases are from Kisii where chiefs say people have stopped
taking drugs,” said NACC director Prof Alloys Orago. He was speaking during the official launch of the National HIV
and Aids Tribunal in Nairobi.
Orago said the NACC is compiling a list of Loliondo
defaulters including those who may have died already. He pleaded with HIV-positive Kenyans to continue taking
drugs, saying defaulting was dangerous. “It can easily cause resistance and many people who came
from Loliondo are already dying for not taking drugs,” he said.
Missing daily doses of ARVs can lead to drug resistance even
when the patient resumes treatment. The person could also spread the drug
resistant strain of HIV, making treatment almost impossible. “The effectiveness
and safety of the herb has not even been ascertained,” the NACC director said. “In
Tanzania they are saying what we are saying here: It has to be subjected to
scientific scrutiny first.”
A 76-year-old man, Ambilikile Mwasapile, popularly known as
Babu, claims God directed him to prepare the ‘healing’ concoction. The tribunal inaugurated yesterday will hear all HIV-related
grievances in Kenya.
Special Programmes minister Esther Murugi asked Kenyans who
are discriminated against because of the HIV status to contact the tribunal,
currently housed by the NACC at Upper hill in Nairobi. “HIV positive people are still subject to serious forms of
stigma and discrimination. They risk losing their jobs, being ostracized from
their communities and being denied access to goods and services,” she said.
Tribunal Chairman Ambrose Rachier said they will not have
powers to jail or fine people. He said they will first develop regulations to
guide their activities. “Everybody including people most at risk to HIV like
prostitutes, prisoners and men who have sex with men have right to health,” he
Other tribunal members are Joy Asiema, Mohammed Noor, Prof
Julius Muasya abd dr Ephantus Njagi of the University of Nairobi. Aids activist Joel Muriuki and Angelina Siparo are also