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January 17, 2008

Political Turmoil Leaves Displaced HIV-Positive Kenyans Without Meds

The political turmoil over last month’s disputed elections that has swept across Kenya in recent weeks has displaced some HIV-positive people—leaving them struggling to keep up with their antiretroviral therapy and to find adequate food to take with their pills, reports Aidsmap.com/PLUS News (aidsmap.com, 1/17).

An estimated 25,000 Kenyans have been forced to leave their homes since the violence began in December.

“As of last week, only about 5 percent of our patients on ARVs had reported [that they had been able to] refill their ARV prescriptions,” said Sylvester Kimaiyo, program manager of the Academic Model for the Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS (AMPATH).

According to Kimaiyo, AMPATH’s health clinics usually give patients a one-month supply of drugs along with a few extra days’ worth in case patients are unable to return to the dispensaries in time. “However, staff at our sites say many patients who have begun to report this week had missed some days of their medication,” Kimaiyo said.

Interrupting antiretroviral therapy can lead to drug resistance. Across the country, community groups are working to help find patients who have gone off treatment. Beginning January 21, the international health organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will have a toll-free hotline that people can call for information about nearby treatment centers where they can access meds if they’ve been forced to relocate and have run out of medication.


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