HIV treat­ment pi­lot pro­ject starts

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Richard Muponde Gwanda Cor­re­spon­dent

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.

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