Sunday Mail Reporter
Foreign currency shortages affected Government’s target to suppress the viral load in 90 percent of people living with HIV who are on anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment by the end of this year.
The envisaged milestone is part of world body UNAIDS’ 90-90-90 target, which aimed to have 90 percent of people living with HIV to know their status by end of 2020.
Further, it targeted to put 90 percent of the people who might have been diagnosed on ARV therapy.
Viral load tests measure the amount of the virus in the blood and enable patients to ascertain if anti-retroviral therapy is working for them or not. National Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission and Paediatric HIV Care and Treatment Coordinator in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Angela Mushavi, said getting foreign currency to buy viral load testing machines “has been a challenge”.
As a result, the virus was suppressed in 85 percent of people on ARVs. However, the number of adult people who know their HIV status was within target at 90 percent.
“Other challenges which have led to the low progression in the cluster include non-adherence and irregular schedules in taking medication, so people end up developing resistance to medication,” said Dr Mushavi.
Journalist and activist Mrs Catherine Murombedzi said challenges were faced in remote areas where viral load testing machines were not easily accessible.
“Blood samples which are taken for viral load testing go bad due to lack of electrified refrigerators before and during transportation to areas where blood will be tested,” she said.
“So usually patients do not get back their results, creating the knowledge gap.”