Zim winning HIV/Aids war

Sindiso Mhlophe

ZIMBABWE is continuing to do relatively well in its fight against HIV/Aids — with latest regional figures placing the country fifth among 16 nations that are battling the pandemic, the Daily News reports.

This comes as the country is in the grip of a girnomous economic crisis which has seen the government sometimes struggling to import anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs).
Although the country still ranks among the countries with the highest HIV prevalence rate in the region, the Sadc Gender Protocol Barometer 2020 report says Zimbabwe has done well compared to countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini and Lesotho.
“Three Sadc nations — Eswatini (27 percent), Lesotho (22,8 percent) and Botswana (20,7 percent) have prevalences above 20 percent; five more between 10 and 20 percent South Africa (19 percent), Zimbabwe (12,8 percent), Mozambique (12,4 percent), Namibia (11,5 percent) and Zambia (11,5 percent),” it said.
Prevalence rate refers to the total number of cases of a disease existing in a population, divided by the total population.
Zimbabwe has an estimated 1,3 million people living with HIV. Of these, about one million are on ARVs.
At its peak, Zimbabwe’s prevalence rate was 18,5 percent, which was recorded in 2005.
The report said the HIV prevalence rate among women in Zimbabwe was 54 percent.
“Zimbabwe is intensifying multi-sector efforts to strengthen key population programmes, as outlined in its National Key Populations HIV and Aids Implementation Plan 2019-2020.
“Actions to address structural barriers include advocacy for law reforms, sensitisation of health-service providers or law enforcement agents, and media campaigns to eliminate stigma and discrimination,” the report said further.
This comes as three years ago the government launched an ambitious US$103 million, five-year HIV-testing strategy — to raise the number of people who know their status, in a bid to build on the progress which has been made in the past decade, which saw new HIV infections in the country falling by 50 percent.
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 end of this year.

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