Almost 11,000 HIV-positive patients in Gauteng have skipped ARV collection during lockdown

Thousands of patients have not collected their HIV and TB medications since the start of the lockdown, making them susceptible to Covid-19.
Thousands of patients have not collected their HIV and TB medications since the start of the lockdown, making them susceptible to Covid-19.
Image: 123RF/Alonso Aguilar Ales

The Gauteng health department on Tuesday said it was trying to trace thousands of TB and HIV-positive patients who have failed to collect their medication since the start of the lockdown on March 27 2020.

The approximate number of patients who failed to collect their TB medicines is 1,090, while the number of patients who failed to collect their antiretroviral medicines is about 10,950.

“Since the lockdown the average percentage reduction in medicine collections for TB is 1.4% and 19.6% for HIV,” read a statement from the Gauteng health department.

“The department has developed and is implementing a track and trace plan to locate patients who have not come to collect their treatment and manage them accordingly.”

The trace efforts were happening through the ward-based outreach teams.

The department expressed concern about the implications of the missed treatments.

“Supply and transportation of medicines may be disrupted by flight cancellations and travel restrictions. The unavailability of medicines may lead to treatment interruption, which subsequently causes drug resistance and deterioration of patients’ health.

“Patients who do not comply with treatment remain vulnerable and may be susceptible to other opportunistic infections, the coronavirus being one of them,” the department said.

“Clinicians may have difficulty managing patients with unsuppressed viral loads caused by treatment interruption. Such patients may end up developing complications such as immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome and many other illnesses.” 

The Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital is one of the hospitals that is being used to treat coronavirus-positive patients in Gauteng.

The health department said because of this, it was forced to cancel or postpone 1,413 surgeries to make available beds for coronavirus patients in need.


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