Spoonsful of jam help the medicine go down

2010-10-06 00:00

THE Msunduzi Hospice Association is appealing for donations of small containers of jam that will be used to disguise the bitter aftertaste of anti-retroviral treatment given to HIV-positive children.

Judy Coghlan of Msunduzi Hospice said they provide home-based care to about 124 children each month.

“Most of these children are HIV-positive and about 63 of them are receiving ARV treatment.”

“The children’s ARVs are in the form of a liquid [for the very young] and tablets for those who are older. The syrup leaves a very bitter aftertaste in the mouth and they are expected to take two doses a day,” she said.

Coghlan said they have found that children are more compliant in taking their treatment if they are able to disguise or remove the bitter aftertaste.

“In a few cases, where we have been able to do so, we have introduced the children to taking a small spoon of jam with their tablets or syrup.

“We are aware that sugar intake should be controlled, but want to give the children something after taking their bitter medication that will improve compliance and reduce vomiting,” she said.

Said Marcus Low, a researcher with the Treatment Action Campaign, “As with adults, ARVs are the only proven way to suppress HIV in children’s bodies. ARVs are helping to keep many HIV-positive children alive and healthy.

“Many HIV-positive children might not like having to take pills or to drink a syrup every day, but without it they would have no hope.

“The lack of special drug formulations for children is a major problem. Like adults, children also take combinations of three ARVs, but in smaller doses. As children grow up it is sometimes difficult to calculate the exact doses needed.

“This is one reason why TAC is campaigning for better, more child-friendly formulations.”

Low added, “As with adults, children who are experiencing serious side effects can be switched to an alternative combination of ARVs that might have fewer side-effects.”

Coghlan said the small single servings of jam are best.

Donations of the jam servings can be made at the Hospice offices at 200 Zwartkop Road.

For more information, phone their office at 033 344 1560 or visit www.hospicekzn.co.za.

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