‘Kariba’s HIV/Aids hotspots unreachable’ 

Source: ‘Kariba’s HIV/Aids hotspots unreachable’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe

HIV/AIDS support organisations operating in Kariba district in Mashonaland West province are facing difficulties in reaching out to hotspots to provide intervention services.

The National Aids Council (Nac) said access to hotspots like fishing camps and mining communities was difficult owing to a poor road network.

Nac youth officer for Kariba, Olivia Mudzi told NewsDay that some fishing camps could only be reached by boat, which is expensive.

HIV prevalence in the district is at 11%.

“While fishing camps are HIV hotspots, we are experiencing challenges in reaching out to those communities. People in fishing camps need services like everyone else.

“Nac and its partners are coming up with a cocktail of intervention programmes, including the Sista2Sista programme to combat HIV/Aids,” Mudzi said.

Mudzi said the Sista2Sista programme had reached out to 500 adolescent girls and young women in the district despite the challenges.

Asmin Chikukwa, a Nac male mobiliser for ward 6, said fishermen were difficult to reach out to as most of them work at night and sleep during the day when most HIV programmes take place.

Centre for Sexual Health and HIV/Aids Research (CeSHAR) Zimbabwe nursing counsellor Joice Mazaiwana said the other challenges they faced in reaching out to fishermen included a poor road network.

“Sex workers and fishermen are classified as key populations.  There is need for Nac and CeSHAR services to include HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and condom use awareness campaigns in their programmes,” she said.

Meanwhile, calls have been made for parents to disclose their children’s HIV status at an early stage to enable them to manage the condition.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion for women living with HIV, couples, PLHIV organisations and other stakeholders from districts of operation in Bulawayo, Pan African Positive Women’s Coalition national director, Tendayi Westerhof said most children born of HIV-positive parents were positive, but were not aware of their status.

“It haunts them when they find out at a later stage during courtship or when someone who knows the medication they are taking tells them that it’s for HIV.

“This causes stress and trauma for the youngsters. We have to fight gender-based violence against women and girls which is usually perpetrated on them as a result of their status,” Westerhof said.

Zimbabwe today joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Aids Day, which is celebrated on December 1 each year.

Westerhof said HIV-positive women continued to face stigma and discrimination upon disclosure of their status, which is worrisome as their welfare is at stake, most of the time they endure violence.

World Health Organisation representative Mkhokheli Ngwenya urged policymakers to craft laws that protect women against GBV once they disclose their status.