‘Aids-re­lated deaths de­cline’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Pa­trick Chi­tumba Mid­lands Bureau Chief

VICE Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa has said HIV and Aids re­lated deaths have de­clined by 77 per­cent in the coun­try in the last decade, as the coun­try moves to­wards end­ing AIDS by 2030.

Speak­ing dur­ing the World Aids Day com­mem­o­ra­tions in Kwekwe yes­ter­day where he launched the new Na­tional HIV Con­sol­i­dated Guide­lines, the VP said the coun­try was steadily record­ing a de­crease in new in­fec­tions in 15 to 49 year age group.

He said five per 1 000 Aids re­lated deaths were recorded in 2016 against 50 per 1 000 which was recorded at the height of the pan­demic in 1994.

The VP said ac­cord­ing to the Zim­babwe Pop­u­la­tion­based HIV Im­pact As­sess­ment (Zim­phia) and Zim­babwe De­mo­graphic Health Sur­vey (ZDHS), Zim­babwe was mak­ing great strides in the fight against HIV and Aids. “The new in­for­ma­tion from the sur­vey will give the coun­try in­for­ma­tion on new HIV in­fec­tions, to­tal num­ber of peo­ple in need of treat­ment and cur­rent lev­els of vi­ral load.

“The in­ci­dence of new in­fec­tions amongst the 15-49 yearolds has been re­duced from 0.88 per­cent to 0.48 per­cent. This means that the num­ber of new in­fec­tions has re­duced from al­most nine to five in ev­ery 1000 adults per year,” he said.

Cde Mnan­gagwa said HIV preva­lence in 15-49 year-olds is now 14 per­cent from 14,8 per­cent. “This means 14 in ev­ery 1 000 adults (15-49) are cur­rently HIV in­fected.

“Preva­lence in chil­dren 0-14years is now 1.6per­cent mean­ing that 16 in ev­ery 1 000 chil­dren are cur­rently HIV in­fected. In terms of ac­tive syphilis, preva­lence is 0.8per­cent mean­ing 8 in ev­ery 1 000 adults have ac­tive syphilis preva­lence in the 15-64 year age group,” said the Vice Pres­i­dent.

The com­mem­o­ra­tions were run­ning un­der the theme, “Clos­ing the tap of new HIV in­fec­tions”.

“I am in­formed that cur­rently in Zim­babwe, mother to child trans­mis­sion of HIV is oc­cur­ring in seven in ev­ery 100 preg­nant women and lac­tat­ing women and we are aim­ing at re­duc­ing this fur­ther to less than five in ev­ery 100 women to achieve vir­tual elim­i­na­tion.

“I’m pleased to note that Zim­babwe launched the Start Free, Stay Free and Aids Free frame­work which will com­ple­ment elim­i­na­tion of mother to child trans­mis­sion strate­gies and en­tire HIV pre­ven­tion pro­gramme,” said the Vice Pres­i­dent.

He said the peo­ple liv­ing with HIV should not be ne­glected adding that 930 000 peo­ple are now re­ceiv­ing treat­ment rep­re­sent­ing 66 per­cent progress to­wards the fast track tar­get where 90 per­cent of all HIV pos­i­tive peo­ple should be on treat­ment by 2020.

“While this is com­mend­able, let me re­it­er­ate the need for ex­pan­sion of HIV test­ing ser­vices to en­sure that the re­main­ing 470 000 peo­ple are tested and placed on treat­ment. The Govern­ment re­mains com­mit­ted to achiev­ing the 90:90:90 treat­ment tar­gets and end­ing Aids by 2030. The 90:90:90 tar­gets speak to 90 per­cent of peo­ple liv­ing with HIV know­ing their sta­tus, 90 per­cent of peo­ple who know their sta­tus are on treat­ment, 90 per­cent on ART have sus­tain­able vi­ral sup­pres­sion,” he said.

Cde Mnan­gagwa said the new na­tional con­sol­i­dated HIV guide­lines in line with World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion guide­lines have seen the re­moval of el­i­gi­bil­ity cri­te­ria for com­menc­ing ART mean­ing that once con­firmed to be HIV pos­i­tive, HIV in­fected peo­ple no longer need to wait to be el­i­gi­ble for treat­ment.

Ad­dress­ing the same gath­er­ing, the act­ing Min­is­ter of Health and Child Care, Dr Dou­glas Mombeshora said Govern­ment has is­sued out over 50 000 HIV self-test­ing kits since Au­gust fol­low­ing an over­whelm­ing re­sponse and de­mand dur­ing the pi­lot project as Govern­ment adopts the treat all ap­proach in line with the 90-90-90 tar­gets.

Dr Mombeshora said Govern­ment was in the process of es­tab­lish­ing a na­tional health in­surance scheme that would but­tress the level of re­sources for the re­sponse to HIV and AIDS and re­lated in­fec­tions. @pchi­tumba1

See Com­ment on Page 4

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