Often times, advice by health experts to test for HIV more than once falls on deaf ears. But the story of a one Farida Kiconco, a resident of Ntungamo in Western Uganda affirms that the advice by medical doctors should not be taken for granted.
The 28 year old mother of three is suffering a severe sickness after taking Anti-Retroviral Drugs, ARVs for the past six years yet she is HIV negative.
“I went to hospital for antenatal care six years ago. After a check-up, the medical worker said that I was HIV positive. They then counseled me and gave me HIV drugs and Septrine,” she said.
You know these ARVs you take them for long...It is taken daily for many many years. So it means that if it was like a mistake for a day or two ,that one at least it can understood. But if you continuously take those drugs when you are not infected,then the liver will be damaged including other organs in your body.
Upon noticing changes in her body like yellowish eyes, changed skin and swollen body parts, Kiconco’s husband, took her back to Kabwohe health center IV where she was given wrong HIV positive diagnosis.
This time round, the doctor on duty who she only identifies as Dr. Tusiime discovered that Kiconco is actually negative.
Farida said: “Dr. Tusiime did a blood test after which he advised me to stop taking ARVs because I was HIV negative. He referred me to Mbarara referral hospital for further treatment. Mbarara hospital too confirmed that I was HIV negative.”
But the effects of taking ARVs for an HIV negative person are worrying. A medical expert from The Aids Support Organization (TASO) in Mbarara district says, the drugs damage body organs leaving the victim weak.
‘‘You know these ARVs you take them for long…It is taken daily for many many years. So it means that if it was like a mistake for a day or two, that one at least it can understood. But if you continuously take those drugs when you are not infected, then the liver will be damaged including other organs in your body. It is not good,” he stressed.
At this point, Kiconco and her husband are cash strapped. She, as the bread winner is down and the husband has no job. The couple sold their only land to meet medical costs resulting from the wrong diagnosis report. They are now calling upon the Ugandan government for support.
She told Africanews’ Correspondent, Victoria Namutebi Wamala that: “I want government to come to my rescue because I am very sick, I cannot do my work the way I used to. My husband and I are helpless.”
For Farida’s husband Musirimu Kisoro “government should honestly treat my wife because she used to be healthy and hardworking. Government should also compensate me for selling off our land to treat her yet she is HIV negative.”
Residents have since lost trust in the area’s health workers. ‘‘We are losing hope in our health workers. We laymen think that health workers are well trained and believe in them, but now if such scenarios are happening to us then our trust is shaken,” Joweria Murezi stated.
The Uganda police have confirmed the incident and that the case is registered under file number CRB 11-07-2017 formally GEF 11- 2017.
The public has however been urged to test for HIV/AIDS more than once before taking ARVs.
Although there are no exact statistics of people who die as a result of medical negligence in Africa, the vice is ranked as the third leading cause of death in the US by a John Hopkins study and one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide.
Victoria Namutebi Wamala
Africanews correspondent, Uganda