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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Zimbabwe records milestones in HIV management

Story by Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor

ZIMBABWE has made great strides in reducing the country’s HIV prevalence rate, owing to a number of initiatives which include political commitment at the highest level.

From 25 percent in the year 2000 to 12.9 percent in 2022, Zimbabwe’s HIV prevalence rate continues to decrease owing to a number of strategies which have been employed by the government through the National AIDS Council.

National AIDS Council chief executive officer Dr Bernard Madzima said, ‘‘We are using what we call models to reach out to those targeted populations. We have different models which we employ for example in dealing with sex workers. We have what we call the sister-to-sister model or the peer lady model where we use peers to engage their counterparts at the community level. We also have amongst the young boys what we call the brother-to-brother programme. We have the Sasa programme with deals with the issues of domestic violence. So really models are targeted interventions where you go down into the communities and use their structures and their engagements at that level to make sure that you get the people to be tested, you get people to understand the services which are available so that they don’t contract HIV and even if they are HIV positive, they are then put on effective treatment.’’

Political will has also been cited as an added advantage in the fight against HIV.

‘‘Zimbabwe has got a leadership which is highly committed to the HIV programme. 20 years ago, the leadership committed to form the National AIDS Council and to have an Act of Parliament which creates a board which coordinates the multi-sectoral response to HIV over the years that commitment has continued and last week, we had the Honourable Vice President leading a delegation to Dar es Salaam to commit to ending HIV in children.

“So our political commitment has always been at the highest level. We are also going to host ICASA at the end of the year and we believe we won the bid to host ICASA because of the high level of political commitment where His Excellency, President Mnangagwa hosted the ICASA assessment team and the secretariat as we were bidding to host the conference and we managed to win because it was one of the key things to show political commitment at the highest level.’’

Zimbabwe has secured a place on the list of Southern African countries such as Botswana that have reached the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) HIV target of 95 percent in terms of testing, treatment and viral suppression by the year 2025.

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