World AIDS Day 2018/2019 theme launched

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - SOCIETY -

ZIM­BABWE re­cently launched the World AIDS Day 2018/9 theme in Harare. The theme: “Know Your Sta­tus” is a be­fit­ting wake up call to every Zim­bab­wean to pri­ori­tise not just HIV test­ing but also other sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions, TB, Di­a­betes, Can­cer and other non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases.

Zim­babwe has done well to change the tra­jec­tory of HIV and AIDS over the years, largely through the de­cen­tralised ap­proach and pro­vi­sion of an­tiretro­vi­ral ther­apy. From as few peo­ple as 5000 in 2004 and with a neg­a­tive eco­nomic land­scape, Zim­babwe now has nearly 1,2 mil­lion on ART. HIV in­ci­dence and preva­lence have also dropped sig­nif­i­cantly, from over 1% in 2005 to 0.44% in 2016 and from over 20% in 2005 to 14.7% in 2016 re­spec­tively.

In a speech read on his be­half by NAC Board Chair, Dr Evaristo Marowa, Min­is­ter of Health and Child Care, Dr Oba­diah Moyo said that while we have a lot to cel­e­brate about, Zim­babwe still has a long road to travel to get peo­ple to be fully em­pow­ered against HIV and AIDS.

“The start­ing point for that em­pow­er­ment is know­ing one’s sta­tus - it is the sin­gle most im­por­tant in­ter­ven­tion that al­lows peo­ple to live and plan their lives,” he said.

Min­is­ter Moyo went on to say that, “without tak­ing an HIV test, one can­not ac­cess ser­vices for vol­un­tary med­i­cal male cir­cum­ci­sion, pre­ven­tion of mother to child trans­mis­sion and ul­ti­mately an­tiretro­vi­ral ther­apy.”

Zim­babwe aims to achieve the 90-90-90-90 global tar­gets and even­tu­ally end AIDS in 2030. This can only be achieved if, and only if peo­ple get to know their sta­tus. While the Min­istry of Health and Child Care, Na­tional AIDS Coun­cil and their strate­gic part­ners are pro­mot­ing HIV test­ing among the en­tire pop­u­la­tion, there are spe­cific pop­u­la­tion sub groups that are be­ing pri­ori­tised and th­ese are sex work­ers, pris­on­ers, youths, ado­les­cent girls and young women as well as mo­bile work­ers who have greater chances of ex­po­sure to risk and there­fore pro­vide a higher yield of HIV pos­i­tive peo­ple.

Min­is­ter Moyo hailed the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee for in­te­grat­ing know­ing ones’ sta­tus for sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions, TB and com­mon can­cers into the global theme. “And I want to recog­nise the ef­forts by NAC to in­te­grate pro­vi­sion of th­ese ser­vices par­tic­u­larly their mu­si­cal galas and com­bi­na­tion HIV pre­ven­tion strat­egy cam­paigns,” he added.

The launch of the theme is a pre­cur­sor to the na­tional com­mem­o­ra­tions of the World AIDS Day which will be held on Sat­ur­day 1 De­cem­ber 2018 at Ru­jeko Sec­ondary School in Glen­dale, Ma­zowe district of Mashona­land Cen­tral.

The Can­dle­light Me­mo­rial as well as HIV pre­ven­tion aware­ness cam­paigns are some of the ac­tiv­i­ties that will be held ahead of the World AIDS Day 2018.

Glob­ally, World AIDS Day is held on the 1st De­cem­ber each year and is an op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple world­wide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their sup­port for peo­ple liv­ing with HIV and to com­mem­o­rate peo­ple who have died due to AIDS.

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