By: Venus Akello
On 17th September 2017, Reach out Mbuya Parish HIV/AIDS Initiative organized an adherence workshop for clients and caretakers of those who were not adhering well to their medication. The workshop was aimed at filling knowledge gaps on adherence and identifying areas that may affect adherence among clients.
Considering that most of the clients had never been to such a workshop, they applauded Reach Out for its efforts in sensitizing them through this unique initiative. The workshop was conducted in such a way that staff of Reach Out made presentations but also clients with successful adherence were able to share their experiences and encourage those who were failing on medication to keep pushing on.
There was sharing of success stories, challenges and lessons learnt through testimonies with the aim of forging a way forward to have the clients adhere well to their HIV treatment.
The goals were:
- To have an insight to HIV/AIDS in general
- To understand how ART(Anti Retro-viral therapy) works
- To have basic knowledge about viral load
- To identify factors affecting ART adherence
- To be able to appreciate the importance of good adherence
- To be able to address factors affecting Adherence and have a clear map to adherence.
Bitham Gertrude, a guardian to a child named Jordan, shared what she had learnt and what she had been going through.
“Some of the challenges Jordan gets when he swallows ARV’s are that he gets dizzy, vomits and has stomachache, which usually takes him 30mins – 1hour to stabilize.
With the knowledge I have attained from this workshop, and being the first of this kind I got answers to all my questions especially about the side effects of ARV’s. I have learnt a lot even advising those who are on ARVS to take their drugs in time and avoid engaging in multiple relationships.”
She added that ROM should continue sensitizing the community through such workshops since many are not aware of these lessons.
Chahwa Francis from Portbell mobile site who has been on ARV’s for 4 years also shared his thoughts.
“This workshop has been so helpful because it is today when I have discovered that HIV and AIDS are different and the disadvantages of poor adherence especially keeping time of medication.”
Ofwono Moses, a 44-year-old who has been on ARV’s for 10 years, shared some of the challenges involved.
“My challenges with the ARV’s is that after swallowing it increases my heart beat and sleep disorders. These challenges have shown up in the last three months.
This workshop has been so helpful because I have known that these are just side effects which will not last long. This workshop has also given me a chance to interact with fellow clients having similar challenges and learn how they have overcome them, which has been a source of learning to me.
Through this workshop I have been able to interact with the clinicians one-on-one and discuss various challenges, which is not the case when we come to clinic. I have really learnt a lot; management should continue conducting such workshops for clients.”
Kirabo Mariam, a client from Knowledge Room in Kinawataka, who has been on ARV’s for the last 5 years, also had a few thoughts.
“This workshop has been helpful because I didn’t know that not taking drugs at the right time was risky.
I have also understood the meaning of viral load, CD4 count and the difference between HIV and AIDS things I had never learnt the last 5 years.”
Participants were taken through a session on factors affecting adherence, challenges and the way forward by the mobile van supervisor. It was a very interactive session where clients asked so many questions and shared experiences with taking ARV’s.
A supervisor discussed when to switch clients to second-line treatment and causes of failure on treatment of ARV’s. Here clients listened attentively because most of those who attended the workshop were not adhering well. The facilitator informed them that currently in Uganda we have only two lines. If a client failed on the first line he/she would be switched to second line and if this failed there would be no option for such a client, and the drugs for the third line are very expensive that Uganda cannot afford for now.
A clinician took participants through a session on how ARV’s work in the body. He used the analogy of a wall, likening ARVS to a wall defense against the enemy which in this case is HIV, and he emphasized that skipping treatment would mean having no defense in case of any attack, thus weakening the person.
Clients were urged to take their medication well and stick to the agreed time to leave no room for the virus to gain ground.