By PETER MALASHA
CLERGY should refrain from discouraging people on anti-retroviral therapy from taking the medication because they are endangering lives, the Network of Zambian People Living with HIV (NZP+) in Mkushi district has said.
Mkushi NZP+ chapter coordinator Ben Lupashi said this in the wake of some churches and prophets in the area who were allegedly stopping people on ART not to adhere to medication but focus on prayers.
In interview, Mr Lupashi said currently there was no known cure for HIV apart from ART, which improves immunity and quality of life.
Mr Lupashi said if people on ART started defaulting on medication the viral load in their bodies would automatically go up and attract opportunistic infections.
There was therefore a need for such prophets and churches involved in wrong doing to stop the vice.
Mr Lupashi said if the trend was not stopped, many lives would be lost and development would be affected because HIV had no scientifically tested cure yet.
Mr Lupashi said NZP+, in partnership with JSI SAFE, had a programme on retention to bring defaulters back on treatment. He said Government had also put up a programme to test the viral load of people on ART.
Many the viral load of people who were adhering to treatment had been suppressed, which meant no new infections. He said discouraging people who were on ART not to stick to treatment would allow the viral load to go up.