HIV treatment pilot project starts
GWANDA District has started a pilot project to initiate everyone who tests HIV positive on Antiretroviral (ART) treatment.
The programme, dubbed Treat All Initiative, is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC) with technical assistance from the Organisation for Public Health Interventions and Development (OPHID).
The Treat All programme is the first of its kind in the country and three districts in Matabeleland South namely Gwanda, Bulilima and Mangwe and another one in Manicaland have been chosen for the pilot project.
Gwanda District Medical Officer Dr Andrew Felix Muza yesterday said Gwanda started implementing the pilot project last week.
“There is no more waiting to get on treatment for anyone who tests HIV positive. All hospitals, clinics and rural health centres in Gwanda, Bulilima and Mangwe districts now offer HIV Care and Treatment services to all People Living with HIV, encouraging them to get in care, start taking their Antiretroviral medicines and adhere to treatment,” said Dr Muza.
He said all People Living with HIV (PLHIV) who have stopped taking antiretroviral medicines (ARVs) were being encouraged to come back for treatment.
“Why Treat All? There is increasing evidence that earlier Antiretroviral (ART) initiation reduces HIV transmission, HIV related illnesses and deaths. Studies have shown that early linkage to and staying in HIV care are central to managing HIV and promoting health among all people living with HIV. ART reduces the amount of virus in the blood and body fluids. It can keep people with HIV healthy for many years, and adhering to treatment greatly reduces the chance of transmitting HIV to sex partners,” Dr Muza said.
He said the Treat All Initiative was going to benefit everyone including newly diagnosed HIV positive people, those who were never on ART but are HIV positive and those who defaulted.
“Anyone who falls in the above categories should visit their nearest clinic or hospital today and get information about starting HIV treatment. Tell a friend or relative who can benefit from this initiative,” said Dr Muza.