Background and Aim: Since 2015, local newspapers reported that pig and poultry farmers in Uganda use antiretroviral
drugs (ARVs) to promote growth in animals and control diseases. This study was conducted to assess farmers’ knowledge,
attitude and perceptions about the use of antiretroviral drugs as boosters in pigs and poultry and the possibility of detecting
the antiretroviral drugs in meat using available laboratory methods.
Materials and Methods: In 2019, a cross-sectional study was conducted in ten districts in Uganda. In 20 focus group
discussions with 100 pig and poultry farmers and 70 animal health service providers, we assessed the use of ARV in
livestock enterprises. Subsequently, samples of chicken, pigs, and animal feeds were collected from volunteer participants,
and screened for residues of saquinavir, lopinavir, nevirapine, and efavirenz using liquid chromatography-tandem mass
Results: Participants in all ten districts were predominantly smallholder farmers supplying the local markets. All groups
reported the use of ARVs in pigs and broiler birds but not in layer hens. In the absence of good quality feeds, the motivation
for feeding ARVs was rapid animal weight gain, as well as the control of animal diseases, for which farmers have no
alternative solutions. ARVs were obtained within the community for free, against cash, or in-kind payment. Residues of
lopinavir were detected in four, and saquinavir in seven districts, and all three sample matrices.
Conclusion: Our study findings confirm anecdotal news reports on ARV use in livestock. While our findings are not
generalizable to the whole country, they call for a representative follow-up. As the drugs were detected in tissues destined
for human consumption, the potential risk to human health warrants further investigation.
Ndoboli, D., Nganga, F., Lukuyu, B., Wieland, B., Grace, D., Braun, A. von and Roesel, K. 2021. The misuse of antiretrovirals to boost pig and poultry productivity in Uganda and potential implications for public health. International Journal of One Health 7(1): 88–95.