Authorities in Mozambique say over 14,000 HIV patients have abandoned antiretroviral therapy in the first three months of the year in the central province of Zambézia.
Male patients form the largest part of those no longer taking the drugs, according to Dr Cheinaze Veríssimo – the provincial head of the HIV Programme in the region.
He blamed stigma and prejudice associated with HIV for the high rate of defaulters.
Over 300,000 patients receive HIV antiretroviral care in Zambézia province.
“The challenge we have now is in relation to those patients who drop out. If the person abandons treatment, the virus automatically gains more strength, the person gets sick and can even, in some cases, lead to death,” Dr Veríssimo said.
He said health officials will be delivering medicines at home to patients who are unable to go to health units – whether out of sickness or for fear of being stigmatised.