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  • on 07.05.2014
  • at 03:00 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

ARVs a Bitter Pill to Swallow for Ugandan Children 0

Kampala – Every morning at six a.m. before he goes to school, and every night at six p.m. after he gets home from school, Emmanuel, 11, knows what he must do: take his antiretroviral pills.

“They are very sour,” says the shy and gentle boy, who was born with HIV and is cared for by his elderly grandmother, his parents having died from AIDS when he was one year old.

“But I don’t mind taking the medicine. I’m used to it now,” he told IPS.

Emmanuel may be taking his medicine properly, but for many of the 35,500 children in Uganda on HIV treatment, daily ARVs are too much of a bitter pill to swallow, especially if they don’t understand why they need them.

The Young Lives study presented by Ugandan researcher Rachel Kuwuma at a conference in Cape Town in December found that not knowing why they needed medicine was a big reason for non-adherence in young people.

“At first I didn’t know why I was taking drugs and didn’t put much effort into it so sometimes I would just throw it away…in the toilet,” Mika, 11, is quoted in the research, which looked at HIV-positive children in Uganda and Zimbabwe over two years.

In Uganda, in 2012, just one in three children who needed ARVs received them, according to United Nations data.

Cathy Kakande works for Namugongo Fund for Special Children, a Ugandan group providing Emmanuel with the drugs for free. She is also a counsellor to the boy and his grandmother. Kakande told IPS that Uganda’s policy is not to reveal their HIV status to children until they reach 13 years of age.

continue reading on Ips Africa 

By Amy FallonIps Africa 

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