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Coronavirus Restrictions Amplify Health Risks to People with HIV in Timor-Leste Featured

DILI:Timor-Leste’s state of emergency and restrictions on movement are preventing some people with HIV from getting the life-saving treatment they need – and potentially putting their compromised immunessystem at risk if they contract COVID-19, according to HIV/AIDS organisations.

Atanazio de Jesus, Secretary of Timor-Leste’sHIV/AIDS Commission, said they were receiving a rising number of reports that HIV positive people were struggling to get their medicationbecause of COVID-19.

De Jesus said 539 people with HIV/AIDS had stopped ARV treatment since the state of emergency started last year.

He said abandoning antiretroviral drugs (ARVs)put HIV positive people’s lives at risk.

De Jesus said ensuring people take ARV’s  was a responsibility for all health professionals.

“It’s expected that all patients know their schedules for receiving medicines andwhen they notice that all medicines have been finished then they have to put in effortto get new medicine,” he said.

Limited opening hours and inability to get to city centres have deterred HIV/AIDS people from getting medication, he said.

Nearly 1312 people have HIV/AIDS in Timor-Leste, with 628 patients still maintaining treatment, according to national data.

Inez Lopes, Executive Director of the Estrela Organisation said the Ministry of Health must ensure that people already facing health concerns can get their medication safely.

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