Aids fight needs concerted effort

HARARE - We commend government’s efforts in scaling up the HIV/Aids fight.

The fact that 600 000 people living with HIV are now accessing ARVs is a reason for much celebration.

Aids is responsible for killing at least six million Zimbabweans ever since it was discovered in the early 1980s.  

The country has reached global standards of antiretroviral drugs accessibility to adult people who are in need of the life-prolonging drugs.

Anyone who has a CD4 count of below 350 and presents themselves at a public health facility can now access the drugs which government has since subsidised.

UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Tatiana Shoumilina, attributes the success to proper planning and prioritisation by government and we agree with her.

Zimbabwe’s success is evidenced by the sharp decrease in the rate of new infections in spite of the fact that we receive far less funding for HIV/Aids than our neighbours in the region.

The unavailability of adequate funding for HIV/Aids programmes had actually propelled government to scale up efforts and come up tops.

While all these efforts are commendable, government should not now take a back seat but continue to drive the agenda by investing in the area of educating people on practicing safe sex.

This will no doubt lower the incidence rate because when all HIV positive people requiring treatment are receiving treatment, the disease will be under control, but there is need to prevent any more infections.

We also call upon the responsible citizens of Zimbabwe to also take matters into their own hands by ensuring that they get tested early.

However, most people present themselves before health practitioners when it is too late and there are of course those who get treated and stop treatment when they start feeling better.

This is dangerous as it can lead to drug resistance.

We strongly urge government to keep a close eye on religious leaders who encourage their flock to desist from taking their ARVs saying prayers and holy water would heal them.

We appeal to such religious leaders to advise their flock to combine holy water and ARVs.

Government must also ensure that second line drugs which are reported to be in short supply at institutions such as Wilkins Hospital are readily accessible.

Investment should also be directed to the area of promoting dialogue especially in rural communities on the issue of HIV/Aids prevention and treatment. - Staff Writer

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