Government has announced plans to increase the number of provinces participating in the peer-to-peer HIV and Aids initiative under its Determined, Resilient, Empowered, Aids-Free, Mentored, and Safe (Dreams) project after the International Aids Society lauded the scheme for significantly reducing the country’s new infections rate.

BY XOLISANI NCUBE

Zimbabwe, together with other sub-Sahara African countries, was commended for taking a leading role in the fight against HIV and Aids among adolescents through a peer-to-peer campaign programme, Dreams, which is funded by the USAid and co-ordinated by the National Aids Council.

Dreams is an ambitious two-year partnership to reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women by 40% in 10 sub-Saharan countries, including Zimbabwe.

At the recently held International Aids conference in Netherlands, Zimbabwe was named as one of the countries that had done well in the fight against HIV and Aids among adolescents and the director for TB and Aids in the Health and Child Care ministry, Owen Mugurungi said the project was set to be rolled nationwide to ensure a success.

“We did a research and found out that with this initiative, we were going to target a group of young people who for long had been left out in our programmes, but extremely vulnerable. We are now looking at a mechanism to expand the project to cover the entire country,” Mugurungi said.

Under the Dreams initiative, adolescent girls and young women are being provided with a core package of services that includes HIV testing, pre and post-exposure prophylaxis, prevention and gender-based violence support, family planning, social protection, educational subsidies, and economic assistance for parents and caregivers of highly vulnerable girls.

Dreams also aims to expand access to voluntary medical male circumcision and antiretroviral therapy to males ages 15 to 29.

The United States President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief has provided $38 million dollars for the Dreams initiative in Zimbabwe and now, the ministry was mobilising fresh funding from the Global Fund to bankroll a nationwide coverage.