PLHIV want COVID-19 myths dispelled

SOME sections among people living with HIV are concerned about the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine with others worried they will become barren.

Such misinformation rattling the HIV community in Zimbabwe was captured by Zimbabwe Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (ZNNP+) via its Kutabila call centre platform.

Addressing a breakfast meeting in Harare organized by the AIDS Health Foundation Zimbabwe recently, ZNNP+ national coordinator Mr Clarence Mademutsa said the Kutabila platform is an interface between the HIV community and the network where they collect issues affecting them.

“I want to speak about a virtual platform which we launched called Kutabila Call Centre or Toll-free number. One of the things that this platform is able to do is that we collect data or issues that are coming from the community. So, this is a zero-rated call centre and people can call in for free and register pertinent issues, be it access, availability issues,” he said.

He also revealed some of the issues they found distressing PLHIV. Among them were the concern that the COVID-19 vaccine would interfere with ART.

“So, from the call centre these are some of the issues that were raised. If you look at the third bar, it relates to COVID 19. We have received 422 calls about COVID-19. The bulk of these calls were actually related to vaccines and how they can access vaccines.

So, this is a major concern for people living with HIV and close to 9 percent of our calls related to COVID-19. This call centre has helped us pick on key issues coming from people living with HIV. I will just quickly go into some of the concerns we picked along the way. These were some of the key concerns for people living with HIV.

“And we need to look at those issues that are coming from them. One of the key ones is the issue of effectiveness of ART. We need to deal with the misconceptions else we risk dealing with two pandemics. So, we need to address issues around whether the vaccine reduces effectiveness of ART,” Mr Mademutsa said.

A reproductive health concern was also raised especially by young adults and adolescents.

“The second one is a key message coming not only among people with HIV but even amongst young people. It is about vaccines causing sterility, issues to do with reproductive health. One that really stuck out is that vaccines cause death within two years. it was mentioned significantly,” the ZNNP+ coordinator said.

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