Govt ratchets up fight against HIV

Source: Govt ratchets up fight against HIV – DailyNews Live

Bridget Mananavire      6 May 2017

BULAWAYO – The government has launched an ambitious $103 million,
five-year HIV-testing strategy – to raise the number of people who know
their status, as the country bids to build on the progress which has been
made in the last seven years, which saw new HIV infections falling by 50

The testing strategy is part of the government’s efforts to achieve the
90-90-90 target – which seeks to have 90 percent of all people with HIV
know their status, 90 percent of diagnosed people being on treatment, and
90 percent of those on treatment having suppressed levels of the virus in
their bodies by 2020.

Launching the strategy here yesterday, Bulawayo Provincial Affairs
minister Eunice Sandi-Moyo said without knowing their status, people
living with HIV would not be able to access life-saving treatment.

“HIV testing is the entry point to all our HIV services, that is, from
prevention to treatment, and support services.  Without knowing your HIV
status, you cannot access any of the innovative life-saving comprehensive
services that we have in all our 10 provinces in Zimbabwe.

“I am truly excited about this new strategy and make a special appeal to
our funding partners to support the full implementation of this strategy.

“However, if the resources to implement each and every activity outlined
in here are not availed, then it remains just a good document,” Sandi Moyo

According to the Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment
(Zimphia), the national testing coverage stands at 74 percent.

The figure is deemed low as 62 percent of men, and almost half of
adolescent girls don’t know their status.

Zimbabwe has an HIV prevalence rate of 13,7 percent, and according to the
2016 national estimates, about 1,3 million people are living with HIV,
with 86 000 being children.

The country has been making strides in its fight against HIV/Aids, despite
the current economic turmoil which health experts say has hit the
operations of most of the country’s major hospitals, including the
procurement of essential drugs for people living with the pandemic.

In the last seven years, new HIV infections have fallen by 50 percent on
the back of awareness and expanded treatment programmes.

During the presentation of his state-of-the-nation address on HIV/Aids
last December, Health minister David Parirenyatwa announced that the
country had recorded an equally impressive drop in HIV-related deaths,
which fell from 3 000 a week to 900 during this period.

All in all, new HIV infections dropped from an estimated 82 570 in 2009 to
42 314 in 2016, raising hopes that Zimbabwe is on course to achieve its
ambitious target to manage the pandemic by 2020.

“This reduction has been on account of the comprehensive combination of
high impact HIV prevention interventions, which include HIV-testing
services, prevention of mother-to-child (PMTC) infection, condom promotion
and distribution, treatment as prevention, behaviour change and voluntary
medical male circumcision,” Parirenyatwa said.