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Monday, August 29, 2011

CHALLENGES FACED BY PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV/ AIDS IN SENEGAL.

By Uchenna Anozie, Nigeria

CHALLENGES
·         CO-INFECTIONS
·         MALNUTRITION
·         ARV SIDE EFFECTS
·         STIGMATISATION
·         ECONOMY

·         CO INFECTIONS
TB, KAPOSI, DIAHORREA, DRY COUGH, RASHES AND SKIN INFECTIONS
Patients living with HIV/AIDS have low immune system, often times patients think their ARV drugs are enough to protect them and some patients stop taking drugs when they feel healthy, some do not keep to medical appointments and only visit the hospital when they are critically ill. Some take herbal treatment along side with ARV drugs, good hygiene practice remains a thing of concern among people living with HIV/AIDS in Senegal.
·         MALNUTRITION
Poor state of the economy, neglect and lack of support from family members and the community, lack of appetite due to state of health and even drug reactions all contribute to the high occurrence of malnutrition in people living with HIV.
·         ARV DRUGS SIDE EFFECTS
ARV drugs are known for some side effects ranging from Lack of appetite, diahorrea, cough, hormonal problems and lactic acid imbalance in the body system, loss of weight, vomiting, nausea, and liver problems.
·         STIGMATIZATION
Stigmatization arises from fear, ignorance and socio-cultural factors. Up till date the societies, culture and religions have not learnt to accept people living with HIV and show love care and support to them, we have immigration laws and policies restraining the movement of people living with HIV/AIDS.
·         ECONOMY
It is no hard fact that economic situation in Senegal does not support people living with HIV; irrespective of the fact that they receive free ARV, they are not given free medical assistance or treatment for co-infections except TB. The employment sector openly oppresses people living with HIV/AIDS.
PUBLIC HEALTH APPROACH TO TACKLE THESE CHALLENGES:
·         HEALTH PROMOTION AND EDUCATION: people living with HIV/AIDS should receive proper counselling on how to take their medications, consequences of not taking their drugs, they should be taught how to practice proper hygiene practice and protect themselves from malaria and other diseases.
·         PROPER COUSELLING AND SOCIAL GROUP SUPPORT FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV BY GOVT.  NGOS AND CBOS: people living with HIV/AIDS should be encouraged to enrol with social groups to receive proper information on living positively, share experiences and also receive entitlements meant for them.
·         CHANGING THE THERAPY IF THE PATIENT HAS SEVERE ARV DRUG SIDE EFFECTS: patients who suffer from extreme side effects of ARV drugs should be given alternative ARV drugs to reduce suffering.
·         EMPOWERING PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV WITH JOBS: micro credit facilities should be made available for people living with HIV/AIDS and if possible jobs should be created for them.
·          POLICY MAKING AND DEVELOPMENT: policies that protect people living with HIV/AIDS in places of employment, schools and immigration laws should be developed.
·         NUTRITION GUIDENCE: due to lack of appetite, people living with HIV/AIDS should be encouraged to eat as much as possible, eat small but frequently and drink lots of water also food supplements should be administered to them free of charge.

CONCLUSION

I have outlined some challenges amongst many others that people living with HIV/AIDS face in Senegal, we hope that government institutions, NGOs, CBOs, religious and cultural organisations will all fight against stigmatization and administer more support, love and care to that people living with HIV/AIDS. This also applies to many developing countries in the world; I want to use this medium to urge all public health workers to do more in ameliorating the situation of people living with HIV/AIDS in our immediate communities.
We can start today and our efforts can create a difference in our society.

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