Remarkable strides against AIDS

Staff Writer

141

DESPITE the disruptions brought about by Covid-19, Zimbabwe registered a remarkable fall
in the number of new HIV infections and deaths from AIDS, Vice President Dr Constantino
Chiwenga, has said.
Dr Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care, made the disclosure at
Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera, Mashonaland East Province, where he was the guest of
honour at this year’s World Aids Day national commemorations.
World AIDS Day is commemorated annually on December 1. This year’s theme is
“Equalise”, which is a build-up from the one for last year, which empahsised ending
inequalities as part of ending AIDS.
The theme is supported by a localised pay-off slogan, abbreviated A-E-I-O-U, underlining
issues of Access, Empowerment, Inclusivity, Opportunities and the Upholding of human
rights.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Mashonaland East Minister of State for Provincial
Affairs and Devolution, Dr Aplonia Munzverengwi, the Vice President said the HIV
prevalence, had hovered around 12 percent for more than five years now, which was a seal of
approval of the effectiveness of the Government’s treatment and prevention programmes.
“At the same time the number of people newly infected with HIV has declined to 22,800 in
2021 from 26,900 in 2019, while that of people accessing treatment has risen from 88.45
percent in 2019 to 92.43 percent of people living with HIV in 2021.
“I am also glad that the number of people dying due to AIDS has dropped to 20,200 in 2021
from 22,500 in 2020. This recovery following Covid-19 disruptions speaks of the elasticity
and resilience of the country’s response to HIV and our potential to achieve epidemic
control.”
Despite the earlier Covid-19 related disruptions, which had threatened to reverse treatment
outcomes, Zimbabwe’s treatment programme had regained composure and added nearly 100

000 new people in 2022, who are now part of the 1,2 million receiving life-saving
antiretroviral therapy.
After having achieved the 90-90-90 by 2020, Zimbabwe has already achieved the 95-95-95
targets, well ahead of the 2025 target date.
The Vice President said that theme sought to spur the country to take deliberate actions to
ensure that all people, including those in risk groups have access to services and are not
hindered by any form of inequalities, be they policy, structural, social or physical.
The Government and developing partners were ensuring that all people were served, through
deliberate and targeted provision of HIV prevention and treatment services.
The thrust is for groups that would otherwise be inhibited in their quest for services due to
inequalities and disproportionate exposure. Zimbabwe is among the first countries to
decriminalise voluntary transmission of HIV.
He said: “As a country, we have also expanded access to HIV prevention services for all
people including sex workers, adolescent girls and young women.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care has introduced differentiated care models for
targeted and choice-based provision of condoms, pre-exposure prophylaxis and other services
without leaving anyone behind. This has helped in shattering stigma and discrimination while
increasing yield.”
The Ministry, he explained, had also approved the safe and highly effective long-acting
injectable cabotegravir (CAB-LA) for HIV prevention, making Zimbabwe the first country in
Africa and the third in the world to do so.
This drug enhances and increases HIV prevention options and outcomes of people at
substantial risk of HIV infection.
The Vice President said that while the national response had performed well, there were still
gaps that needed plugging as part of equalising access. These gaps were around access to and
utilisation of services by the most at risk and vulnerable groups, including sex workers,
adolescent girls and young women and prisoners among others.
In 2023, the Ministry would be scaling-up all high impact interventions to achieve the
objectives of the World AIDS Campaign theme.
“Let me also make a call unto our partners and donors to continue supporting us in optimising
HIV prevention and treatment, and leaving no one behind.
“Finally, I would like to thank all the partners in the national response for their hard work in
the year 2022 despite the challenges confronting us.
“Your contribution and participation have been very immense and are the building blocks for
equalising the inequalities, which are holding back progress towards ending AIDS.” 

Speaking at the same occasion, Dr Bernard Madzima, the National AIDS Council Chief
Executive Officer, said that the number of new HIV infections dropped from 24,900 in 2020
to 22,800 in 2021, while the antiretroviral therapy coverage rose from 92% to 92.43% of the
1,301,400 people living with HIV during the same period.
“Half way through the pursuit of the 95-95-95, we are proud that Zimbabwe has already
achieved these targets.
“As most of you will know by now, Zimbabwe was selected to host the International
Conference on AIDS and STIUs in Africa next year.
“We are very excited about this opportunity, which will enable us and the entire response
including communities to share with the entire continent and globe the progress we have
recorded towards epidemic control.”
ICASA, he explained, would open up Zimbabwe to the world and in addition to scientific and
technological health benefits and the conference would have significant economic
transformational results.

Comments are closed.