At least 110 000 people living with HIV are on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) in Harare, with more than 73 percent of people living with HIV knowing their status, city health director, Dr Prosper Chonzi has said.
Speaking during the recent signing ceremony of the Paris Declaration to end the HIV epidemic by 2030, Dr Chonzi said Harare was among the first five provinces to pilot test the provision of HIV treatment, also known as ART, in April 2004 and within a couple of years had rolled out HIV care services to all clinics and hospitals under the City of Harare.
“As we speak today, the programme has not just grown in terms of facilities offering the services, but also in the number of clients accessing services, the scope of services being offered, the number of partners supporting the programme, the degree of community involvement and the magnitude of integration with other existing services,” he said.
“To date, there are about 110 000 people on ART in the City of Harare. All the services that span the continuum of care from testing to care and support are available in all our facilities.
“Viral load testing is currently available at Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital, Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital and polyclinics.”
Dr Chonzi said some of the strategies employed by the city to achieve the milestones include training of health care workers, task shifting and task sharing, use of standard operating procedures and job aides, continuous mentorship, support and supervision and adopting a continuous improvement approach.
At the moment the deficiency in progress was in getting people who were infected or thought they could be infected to take the tests so that they knew their status. Once that hurdle was overcome, the rest of the programme was doing well.
In Harare, 73,4 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 94,8 percent of those who know that they are HIV positive are on ART and 89 percent of those who are on ART are virally suppressed.
HIV testing remains the entry point into care and as such, we need to work hard to make sure that the first 95 (percent of infected people who know their status) is realised, he said.
Dr Chonzi said as the city is working towards accelerating the HIV response with a number of measures lined up to increase access to care, in addition to commissioning new clinics, intensifying outreach clinics for general and HIV-related services.