THE National AIDS Council (NAC) Monitoring and Evaluation Director, Mr Amon Mpfofu says the risk of HIV infection is equally high among married couples as evidenced by latest nationwide HIV estimates.
By Michael Gwarisa
Speaking to Editors and Station Mangers during a sensitization meeting that was organized by NAC in Chinhoyi, Mr Mpofu attributed the high number of new HIV infections in Matebelenad South to spousal separation as married couples are either separated by work or migration into neighboring countries.
In 2020, the highest HIV prevalence was recorded in Tsholotsho which recorded 21.9% and the lowest was in Binga which recorded 5.3%. The situation is almost similar in Plumtree and Beitbridge. As for Tsholotsho, this high prevalence can be attributed to spousal separation in the province. As you know, most people in those parts have either migrated or work in South Africa and Botswana and they leave their families here in Zimbabwe.
“When they come home and because they would have spent some time away from their spouses, they do not even use condoms for protection hence the high prevalence. We encourage married couples to use condoms as they are also at greater risk of infection. As long as you have unprotected sex, you are at risk of infection. A few years ago, we used to conduct a blitz every festive season in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) where would distribute condoms at roadblocks especially targeting returning Zimbabweans,” said Mr Mpofu.
In 2020, the highest incidence rate or number of new HIV infections was recorded in Bulilima and Mangwe, while Mbire and Muzarabani recorded the lowest. Absolute number of new infection were highest in Harare and Bulawayo and lowest in Mbire and Rushinga.
Meanwhile, government through the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) says it is scaling up HIV Self Testing as a means of identifying new cases as well as initiate new clients on Anti Retro Viral Therapy (ART).
“We did not achieve the first 95, that is of diagnosing those living with HIV because there are still people who are not comfortable using the current of mode of HIV testing. We also know that are many gaps that hindered attainment of the first 95 and these include stigma and discrimination and the fact that there are some high risk groups that are not comfortable getting tested using the current mode.
“So one of the issues that we have said we want to increase to make sure that at least we expand HIV services is HIV self testing in which you can test in the comfort of your home,” said Dr Owen Mugurungi, Director AIDS & TB Programs in the MoHCC.
According to the 2020 ZIMPHIA report, 86.8 percent of adults living with HIV were aware of their status and of those aware of their status, 97.0 percent were on antiretroviral treatment. Among those on treatment, 90.3 percent achieved viral load suppression