Call for involvement of people living with HIV

HARARE - Zimbabwe Network for People Living with HIV (ZNNP+) says people living with the virus including those from key populations must be involved at all stages in the fight against the disease in order to achieve the 90-90-90 targets by 2030.

Under the ambitious HIV treatment target 90-90-90 by 2030, 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90 percent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 percent will have viral suppression.

The issue to involve People Living with HIV (PLHIV) was raised during a Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention (PHDP) discussion that was held in Harare on Friday last week.

ZNNP+Stigma Index Coordinator Tonderai Chiduku said PHDP represents a fundamental shift in the way in which People Living with HIV (PLHIV) are involved in the HIV response as it takes on board their views.

“People living with HIV are leaders in the design, programming, implementation, research, monitoring and evaluation of all programmes and policies affecting them.

“They have substantial knowledge, experience and insight into the issues that are important for them and regarding strategies for responding effectively to the epidemic.

“If the health, dignity and prevention needs of people living with HIV are to be adequately addressed, PLHIV must be meaningfully involved in all aspects of policies and programmes that affect them.” Chiduku said.

ZNNP+ national chairperson Sebastian Chinhaire said PHDP points to health rights and the right to health issues of PLHIV.

“PHDP places PLHIV at the centre of HIV response. It champions the instrumental role of PLHIV in achieving the 90- 90-90 targets of ending the Aids epidemic by 2030.”

Chinhaire added that the model aims at improving the dignity and length of life of PLHIV, however, this is not the reality as the rights of affected persons are severely compromised.

“PLHIV are still failing to access critical HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services.

“Of critical importance to PLHIV is the viral load testing machines.  The government should consider scaling up viral load testing machines in all the 10 provinces to ensure that PLHIV can access them on demand as this is critical in the realisation of the third 90.”

Chiduku also said that PHDP requires a human rights framework (including rights-based approaches to HIV programming) supported by protective laws.

“As a person living with HIV I have rights to have safe sex , have a family, to access justice, non-discrimination, employment — not through fear but through empowerment, and with dignity.”

According to UNAids PHDP promotes supportive policies and programmes that help empower individuals irrespective of their HIV status to take responsibility for their own health and well being.

“By doing so, this will have a positive impact on partners, families and communities.

Zimbabwe has an estimated 1,3 million people living with HIV/Aids and is vigorously fighting the pandemic under the fast-track concept of the United Nations programme on HIV/Aids, which aims at ending the scourge by 2030.

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