Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Pupils on ARVs, feared infected with HIV while playing doctors and patients

Twenty families in Francistown are waiting anxiously for their children’s final HIV\AIDS tests after the children, aged between six and seven, shared a make believe injection while playing doctors and patients.

The 20 Standard One pupils at Francistown Ikhutseng Primary School have been put on Post Exposure Prophylaxis treatment (PEP) of Anti-retrovirals (ARVs) against possible HIV infection after they were pierced with a sharpened object by a colleague.

The incident has created anxiety among parents who are worried that their children may have been infected.

One parent told Sunday Standard that: “My major worry is the possibility of my child being adversely affected by the ARV dose they are currently taking as a counteractive measure against cross infection resulting from the use of a single item for piercing them.”

She said although interim medical examination results have not detected any infection, she is worried about potential side effects of the HIV treatment on her child.

Assistant Superitendent, Edward Leposo, Acting Station Commander at Francistown Central Police Station, confirmed that the case was registered with them by the Head Teacher of Ikhutseng Primary School, at the insistence of the Nyangabwe Referral Hospital (NRH) where the kids were treated.

“But in the meantime I can only confirm there is such a case, though I cannot say much until we have medical results from NRH,” said Leposo. He added that since the schools are presently on holidays they intend to check the results in 2 weeks time.

The Hospital’s Public Relations Officer, Caiphus Gabana, confirmed the incident.

“It is true that twenty pupils between the ages of 6 and 7 years, apparently all from a single class at Ikhutseng Primary School were attended here for a complaint that they had been possibly pierced by a colleague with a sharp object suspected to be a money clip,” Gabana told The Sunday Standard in an interview.

The sharpened money clip was attached to a syringe just like an ordinary injection needle, although there was no medicinal liquid involved, according to the PRO.

Since some of the kids complained of pain, and given the potential for cross infection, in particular HIV infection, the Doctors administered a dose of PEP, which is a precautionary treatment in the event there may have been a possible infection.

“Basing on procedure, all the kids were tested for HIV and then dispensed with an initial three day course of PEP, after which they were then given a further twenty eight days Combivr course pending another HIV test, as the present results cannot be conclusive.

For his part, the Principal Officer II, Simon Tlhabano, based at the Regional Office in Francistown, would not comment, and referred all questions to the Ministry of Education’s Nomsa Zuze who was not available to respond to questions.

Tlhabano said that the matter was complicated for him to comment.

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