It has been three years since Kirmuli BK of Budhiganga Municipality, Bajura, started taking ARV drug. At a time when the country has been under lockdown due to the coronavirus crisis for about a month now, putting food on the table has been quite a challenge for her, let alone taking in enough nutrients.

Kirmuli lost her husband Bane BK three years ago to HIV. It was already difficult to keep her family alive, but it has become even more difficult to survive when the entire country has gone into a lockdown. "As there is no work available now, we can't earn anything and are bound to take ARV drug on empty stomach," she said.

Like her, 56 persons in Bajura are taking ART drug from the district hospital.

Bajura Plus Chairperson Mina BK, who herself is an HIV infected person, also spoke about the plight of HIV infected persons having to take ARV drugs without enough nutrients.

"Most of the infected persons are daily wage earners, and since there's no opportunity to work now, how will they afford nutrients?" she asked.

Jala Rawal of Budhiganga has been taking ART drug for the past 10 years. She used to take the drug with nutritional flour until six years ago; her health was good till then. After the government stopped the programme that provided nutritional food to HIV infected persons, she has been taking it without sufficient nutrients.

Budhiganga Municipality health Coordinator Dipak Shah admitted that the tendency among ARV takers to take the drug on empty stomach is taking a toll on their health. "A vast majority of HIV infected persons here are from poor economic background. They were already suffering after the government stopped its programme of distributing nutritional flour to them, now amid this lockdown, they are in a more difficult situation," he said.

According to health workers, most ARV takers are suffering from anaemia.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 3, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.