Night time HIV test­ing a hit in Masvingo

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Andile Tshuma re­cently in Masvingo

THE Na­tional Aids Coun­cil (Nac) says the moon­light HIV test­ing seems to be pay­ing div­i­dends as more peo­ple are com­ing for­ward for HIV test­ing at night.

Nac Masvingo Pro­vin­cial Man­ager, Mr Edgar Muzulu, told jour­nal­ists on a tour of the prov­ince last week that the the night HIV test­ing was meant to ben­e­fit sex work­ers, truck driv­ers and ar­ti­sanal min­ers who nor­mally shied away from health ser­vices.

He said so far about 70 per­cent of HIV pos­i­tive peo­ple in the prov­ince were aware of their sta­tus due to in­ter­ven­tions such as moon­light HIV test­ing.

“We have re­alised that some peo­ple shy away or have no time to go for HIV and Aids test­ing dur­ing day­time hence the in­tro­duc­tion of this night test­ing,” Mr Muzulu said.

He said the moon­light test­ing had proved pop­u­lar with cer­tain groups of peo­ple.

Masvingo prov­ince’s HIV preva­lence rate is 12,8 per­cent and Ngundu area on the Beit­bridgeHarare high­way is one of the hotspots where night test­ing is be­ing con­ducted.

Chivi Dis­trict, how­ever, has the high­est HIV preva­lence rate of 14,6 per­cent while Bikita has the low­est preva­lence rate at 11 per­cent.

Ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics from Nac, 138 208 peo­ple live with HIV in Masvingo prov­ince and 9 700 of them are chil­dren. The prov­ince has a pop­u­la­tion of 1,46 mil­lion.

Mr Muzulu said the key driv­ers of HIV in Masvingo are low up­take of con­doms and mul­ti­ple con­cur­rent part­ners.

“We have early sex­ual de­but at 13 to 19 years, which has re­sulted in the high pos­i­tiv­ity rate,” he said.

Mr Muzulu said it is not only sex work­ers who have ben­e­fited from night test­ing as more men also pre­fer be­ing tested un­der the cover of dark­ness.

The Min­istry of Health and Child Care through the sup­port of its part­ners in­tro­duced the night test­ing in 2016 as part of mea­sures to bring ser­vices to the peo­ple, de­mys­ti­fy­ing HIV while break­ing bar­ri­ers that hin­der peo­ple from get­ting tested for HIV.

The na­tion con­tin­ues to grap­ple with chal­lenges of openly talk­ing about the health risks of un­pro­tected sex.

Moon­light test­ing in­creases ac­cess to vol­un­tary coun­selling and test­ing ser­vices and links clients to treat­ment and care while tar­get­ing high risk pop­u­la­tions that are hard to reach.—@andile_t­shuma

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