AFRICA/SWAZILAND - HIV- positive: malnourished forced to eat animal dung in order to take antiretroviral drugs

Friday, 29 July 2011

Mbabane (Fides Service) - Hundreds of HIV-positive are malnourished and weakened by the disease, residents in rural areas of Swaziland, are forced to eat animal dung in order to fill their stomach before taking antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). From studies carried out, the intake of ARVs on an empty stomach may exacerbate the side effects of medications, such as headaches, dizziness and tremors. Swaziland is in the midst of a financial crisis in which the government has cut funding to local humanitarian NGOs by 14%. Approximately 65 000 inhabitants of the country treated with ARVs are concerned that the continuing financial uncertainty may also affect their treatment and affect their survival. One Swazi out of four aged between 15 and 49 is HIV positive, 26.1%, the highest prevalence rate in the world, for a population of one million people. HIV has also affected the educational system of the country. School headmasters have decided to close all state schools for the whole month of August because the government did not keep the promise to pay fees for all the orphans and poor children. A fifth of the population of Swaziland, about 200 000 children under the age of 15, including those orphaned due to HIV /AIDS, and teachers, whose schools rely on student fees and government subsidies, say that there are no more conditions to carry the system forward. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 07/29/2011)