I stopped HIV treatment due to religious pressure

Medical experts say that People Living with HIV who are on ART are expected to take their drugs daily. Failure to do this is detrimental to the individual health of the PLHIV and the nation at large because it creates the opportunity of new viral strains that are resistant to affordable ARVs, and ultimately die prematurely. But, still some of PLHIV on ART stopped receiving treatment.
 
Ms. Anzimye Lukosi, one of those who had stopped receiving HIV treatment and now is back following the TUNAJALI’s Back to Treatment Campaign said with her husband they were once on ARVs but due to some religious pressure they had to abandon the treatment and this caused her husband’s health to deteriorate. “As a result he died. I am convinced that hadn’t been for treatment default he would be alive today,” she confidently says.
 
Anzimye with her husband were blessed with three children. After the birth of the third born, they experienced health problems for about seven years. “We used to have recurring fever, I then got herpes zoster. My health was terrible and my husband sent me back to my parents in Ilula, knowing that I was going to die.”
 
At Ilula, she went to check her sero status at a health centre where it was found out that she was HIV positive. “At that time I had wounds all-over my body and experienced a rapid weight loss. I was put on ARVs and within just two months I was fine again. So when my husband came to visit me, he found me booming with good health.” As advised at the Centre for HIV Treatment and Care (CTC), she advised him to also check his health. She accompanied him to the CTC. It was found-out he was HIV positive too. After checking his CD4 he was also put on ARVs. Together with his wife they went back to Makambako.
 
At Makambako they lived in a church’s house with their pastor. Since the church’s foundation was of miracles, they were not required to take any medicine to treat diseases. When the pastor realized that they were using medicine he started discriminating against them, saying that they’ve failed in faith by not believing in miracles but medicines. “We had to stop using ARVs,” she says.
 
Months after quitting ARVs their health started to deteriorate, they became so weak they couldn’t even provide for their children. As a result they had no food, no money and the children could not go to school.  Her husband’s health deteriorated very fast, and in 2009 he died. Realising the repercussion of dropping from using ARVs she moved out from the church house and she got back to treatment. 
 
Six months later she was fine again, “As you can all see and here I am, very healthy and as strong as a fiddle. I do casual work to support my children, and as I am talking now they have resumed schooling. I will never quite ARVs, I don’t want to die prematurely, I want to see my children grow and have their families,” says Anzimye smiling.