The National, Mondy 14th November 2011
NATIONAL AIDS Council Secretariat chairman Sir Peter Barter has expressed sadness at the shortage of antiretroviral drugs for people living with HIV/AIDS, saying it is a national emergency.
Sir Peter was responding to a Post Courier report last Tuesday that 500 people living with HIV in Western Highlands had gone without antiretroviral drugs for several days because of a shortage of funds to air freight the drugs from Port Moresby.
He said he had directed the council and its secretariat, as the mandated coordinating authority, to give as much support to the national Department of Health to ensure swift action was taken to remedy the situation.
He said the people’s lives were at risk and he called on all responsible international agencies to ensure antiretroviral drugs procurement was maintained at a high level of efficiency.
Sir Peter dismissed a statement by Highlands regional HIV/AIDS coordinator Dr Petronia Kaim that patients could go without drug treatment regimen for seven to 21 days.
“The council has rejected reports that people living with AIDS can have a drug holiday because of drug resistance,” he said.
He maintained that antiretroviral drug users should take the medication daily as it was for their benefit.
“This is technically, medically and morally wrong because between 200 to 500 lives, as a conservative estimate, are placed unnecessarily in danger because of wrong and irresponsible medical advice,” Sir Peter said.