By Robert Tapfumaneyi
ZIMBABWE new HIV annual infections have fallen from 47 000 recorded in 2016 to current statistics of 40 000 while AIDS related deaths have declined to 20 000 in 2019 from 54 000 in 2010.
This, according to Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the health minister, is due to the government’s focus on HIV prevention interventions over the years.
He was speaking this week as the guest of honour to mark the virtual World AIDS commemorations.
“To ensure that this trend continues, the country shall prioritise interventions targeting sub-populations with higher incidence and prevalence such as sex workers, prison inmates, adolescent girls and young women and youth in general and other key populations,” Chiwenga said.
“As well other groups like artisanal miners and mobile transporters whose occupational dynamics increase their risk to HIV. At the same time, focus will be intensified towards reducing mother-to-child transmission and public provision of prevention devices such as condoms following the temporal shortages during Covid-19 disruptions.
“Zimbabwe has also made commendable progress in initiating and retaining HIV positive people on treatment, which is very important in reducing deaths and improving HIV prevention outcomes.”
He added: “Due to our wider ART coverage, Zimbabwe now has nearly 1.2 million people on ARVs, which has resulted in annual AIDS related deaths declining to 20,000 in 2019 from 54,000 in 2010.”
“Our efforts are now geared towards epidemic control and in this regard, we are focusing on ensuring that the death rate among HIV positive people should be less than or equal to the death rate in the general population, while also bringing new infections to equal or lower than the number of AIDS related deaths.”
“I am happy to inform you that on the first 90, 86.8% of people living with HIV in Zimbabwe now know their status. This is a 10% increase from 76.8% recorded in the previous survey in 2015.”
The Vice President said the government was satisfied that 97% of the People Living with HIV (PLWHIV) are now on lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART).
“Which is quite an improvement from the previous 88.4% recorded in the last (in the past). For those on antiretroviral therapies, 90.3% of them have achieved viral load suppression, compared to the previous 85.3%.
“The progress we have made in the response to HIV requires an enabling health delivery system that is anchored on a vision of health for all while prioritising all diseases.”