via Door-to-door HIV testing gets nod | The Herald December 14, 2015
Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Mashonaland Central and Matabeleland North provinces have overwhelmingly embraced the “door-to-door” voluntary HIV testing and counselling services initiated by Government in October with over 4 500 people having been tested in the past two months, a senior Government official has revealed.
In an interview recently strategic information coordinator in the Aids and Tuberculosis Unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Mutsa Mhangara said the uptake of services offered during the national Aids survey was commendable.
Dr Mhangara said the response rate from past surveys averaged at 70 percent, but 95 percent of females and 85 percent of males approached to take part in the Zimbabwe Population Based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA) agreed.
“I think we are realising these benefits due to investments that we have done in community mobilisation and awareness creation on the survey,” said Dr Mhangara.
He said ZIMPHIA was also working closely with communities including the traditional and religious leaders hence the smooth flow of the survey.
Asked about stigma and discrimination at community level, Dr Mhangara said the rate at which people were agreeing to take part in the HIV survey shows that issues of stigma and discrimination were not a huge concern anymore.
“What is coming up is that we could be overrating issues of stigma and discrimination as this doesn’t seem to be what is happening on the ground. If stigma and discrimination was still a major issue in communities, most people could be resisting the services that we are offering to them as part of our survey,” said Dr Mhangara.
He said the response they were getting from communities was overwhelming such that some people who were not part of the survey were pleading to get tested.
Dr Mhangara said in terms of programming, people were responsive to Government initiatives to end Aids.
Supported by the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief through the Centre for Disease Control and the Global Fund, ZIMPHIA started in October and is expected to run for six months throughout the country assessing the burden of HIV and Aids as well as syphilis.
The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, National Aids Council, Biomedical Research and Training Institute, Westat and ICAP at Columbia University are also taking part in the implementation of the study.
Over 30 000 people from about 15 000 households are expected to get tested during the six-month period.
Information gathered from ZIMPHIA is expected to inform policy and programming of HIV initiatives as the country gears for elimination of Aids by 2030.