HIV & TB Response

“It is very frustrating because I was happy to be on the multi-month supply at my old clinic — it was easier” #MoreARVPillsNow

This week we are marching in Thabo Mofutsanyana, Lejweleputswa, and Dr Kenneth Kaunda to demand longer ARV refills for people living with HIV. As TAC and Ritshidze we have well documented how the dysfunction in our clinics forces people to stop collecting treatment. As one way to turn this situation around, for more than four years we have been calling on the department to ensure people get longer ARV refills. While more people are now getting 3 month supply, Thabo Mofutsanyana, Lejweleputswa, and Dr Kenneth Kaunda are falling behind. Here Leti* tells her story about struggling to get access to ARVs without a transfer letter, and being put back on one month supply of ARVs.

Changing between two Free State clinics without a transfer letter has turned into a nightmare for Leti*.

Leti has been on ARVs for over 10 years and was approved for a three-month ARV supply at her previous clinic that she calls “Rhanda Clinic”. But the round trip taxi fare became too costly for her so she asked to be transferred to the Hani Park Clinic, closer to her home earlier this year.

“At that clinic they told me I didn’t have to have a letter and I could just go there and be enrolled at Hani Park,” she says, speaking in SeSotho. 

But at Hani Park she was told she was “a visitor” and was initially refused medication outright. She says she was also not offered an HIV blood test and was not given any help to continue on her treatment at this facility. 

“In the end I had to get help from the Ritshidze clinic monitors who were there at the clinic on that day. The nurses didn’t check my bloods, they made me bring in an old medicine container to prove that I was on ARVs and they only gave me a refill for one month,” Leti says.

She adds that the nurses have not tried to help her resolve the problem and have simply told her that without a transfer letter she will be treated as a visitor going forward. They have also not asked about her medical history for her new patient file. 

Leti says another complication is that nurses at the clinic she used previously had taken her bloods earlier this year and told her someone would call her with the results. To date no one has called, so she doesn’t know her viral load. 

“It is very frustrating because I was happy to be on the multi-month supply at my old clinic — it was easier. Right now I’m just trying to find the taxi money so that I can go back to the old clinic and try to get a letter or something to try to sort this out,” she says. 

* Name changed to protect identity