New HIV infections fall

Sallomy Matare Herald Reporter

The country has recorded a 27 and 9 percent decline in new HIV infections among children and adults respectively in the past three years, Secretary for Health and Child Care Dr Agnes Mahomva said yesterday.

In a speech read on her behalf by the Principal Director (Preventive Services) Dr Gibson Mhlanga at the launch of HIV programmes review in Harare, she attributed the decline to collective efforts from Government and the private sector.

“As a country, we have made significant strides in curbing the HIV epidemic.

“New HIV infections among adults have declined by 9 percent, while in children by 27 percent from 2015 to 2018.Through the Mother-to-Child Transmission programme, 11 880 infections were averted in 2018, while 63 000 deaths were prevented through the Antiretroviral programme during the same year,” she said.

Dr Mahomva said over one million people were receiving lifesaving Antiretroviral Therapy with improved quality of life and productivity as people live longer on treatment.

Some of the programmes the ministry put in motion include voluntary medical male circumcision, pre-exposure prophylaxis, comprehensive condom programming, HIV testing programme, elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, prevention and management of STIs and Antiretroviral Therapy programme.

Dr Mahomva said the launch of the review programme was meant to probe into weaknesses of the programmes and make way for new ideas to end the disease by year 2030.

“The review programme will help identify key programme gaps, achievements, best practices and innovations as Zimbabwe endeavours to achieve the 90-90-90 UN fast-track targets by 2020 and ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” she said.

“Zimbabwe is also reviewing the national health strategy and it is my hope that the findings from the review will feed into and inform the national health strategy.”

18 external experts and 80 internal reviewers were commissioned in the different parts of the country to conduct the process set to last for two weeks.

The Zimbabwe National and Sub-National HIV Estimates report 2017 from the ministry also reports a decrease in the number of AIDS-related deaths by more than 60 percent from 2010 to 2017.

The reports attributed this improvement to the wider coverage of Anti-retroviral Therapy.