Being HIV positive is proving to be expensive considering that in Zimbabwe, antiretroviral drugs are now in short supply, an interview with Gumisai Bhonzo, one of the people living with HIV/AIDS has revealed.
Bhonzo remarked that she was unknowingly given expired ARVs resulting in side effects that forced her to opt for Zambia where she procure a month’s supply for USD$65.
“I have been taking ARVs religiously for 20 years. So recently when I was given my supply like always, I started experiencing numbness and a running tummy. That’s when I discovered I had been given expired drugs and what I was having are side effects. I had to stop and look for proper drugs,” said Bhonzo.
“I went on to ask the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) and they explained that the drugs have an extended shelf life even after the expiry date. They are not even putting into consideration the side effects that people living with HIV are experiencing with those side effects. Its like experimenting with people’s lives ,” she added.
Recently MCAZ and the health minister dispelled fears of a crisis when they said the expired ARVs given to people were safe until 30 June since they had an extended shelf life.
But Bhonzo complained that despite the timeline announced by government having expired, they were still being given to people living with HIV/AIDS.
“It’s now well after 30 June and people are still being given those expired drugs in the local institutions. personally I have been taking those drugs for twenty years now and I am over fifty and some of the side effects might kill me because my immune system cannot be tempered with at this age. The government should know that they cannot experiment with the people’s lives,” added Bhonzo.
“I choose to buy my drugs from Zambia than put my life at stake with these expired drugs. The government should secure more drugs. We have the right to access basic health,” said Bhonzo.