By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THE National Aids Council (NAC) has resorted to introducing clinics that operate at night to provide HIV/AIDS testing services to “key populations” like truckers.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, NAC Mashonaland East provincial manager Wilfred Dube said the novel idea has opened in Murehwa targeting truck drivers who use the Harare-Nyamapanda Highway heading to Mozambique, Malawi and other East African countries.
The introduction of the night clinics, according to Dube, has increased the options available to truck drivers and improved testing uptake for some especially among those who have never tested before.
“From Bhora Growth Point which about few kilometres from the capital city up to border Nyamapanda, we have put in place night clinics. They have become very popular with truck drivers and sex workers,” Dube said.
“They utilise them during the night when the majority of people are not there, they are very open. When they come there, the nurses who man these night clinics were trained to be accommodative to these key populations.”
Dube added: “If they want medication, they will get it including anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs). If there is any information they want to get from the clinics during the night there is enough time to get the services that they want.”
The Harare-Nyamapanda highway has popular growth points such Bhora, Cross, Murehwa, Mutoko and Kotwa shopping centres.
Truck drivers and sex workers are some of the key populations that have been identified by NAC in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS as well as prevention and treatment programmes.
Truck drivers and sex workers are said to be major drivers of STIs especially in border towns and NAC has intensified implementation and strengthening of the cross-border programmes to close the tap on all new HIV infections.