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VP launches HIV treatment guidelines

By Mirirai Nsingo / Published on Monday, 05 Dec 2016 17:15 PM / No Comments / 614 views

5 December 2016

VP Mnangagwa
VP Mnangagwa

VICE President Emmerson Mnangagwa last Thursday launched the latest World Organisation HIV treatment guidelines that will see an increase in the number of people in need of the anti-retroviral treatment.

In his address during the World AIDs Day commemorations that were held in Kwekwe under the theme: ; ‘Closing the tap of new HIV infections’, VP Mnangagwa commended the Ministry of Health and Child Care for adopting the new WHO guidelines on HIV, saying they will see an improvement in the quality of life of people living with HIV.

“As part of efforts to ensure that quality services are provided to people living with HIV, the Ministry of Health and Child Care has adapted the national consolidated HIV guidelines in line with the recently released 2015 World Health Organisation guidelines.

“These new guidelines have seen the removal of eligibility for commencing anti-retroviral treatment, meaning that, once confirmed to be HIV positive, HIV infected people no longer need to wait to be eligible for treatment.

“This will see a number of people accessing treatment early, leading to better survival of HIV infected people,” VP Mnangagwa said.

The guidelines will see people at high risk of contracting HIV  (key populations) being given pre-exposure prophylaxis (Pre-P) that comes in the form of anti-retroviral medications to prevent themselves from getting infected with HIV.

“The introduction of Pre-P will also contribute to closing the tap of new HIV infections. I’m pleased the ministry recently developed an HIV Prevention Revitalization Roadmap to guide implementation of high impact HIV prevention interventions, particularly targeting hotspots and key populations.

“Zimbabwe has identified sex workers, adolescents and young people, long distance truck drivers, artisanal miners and prisoners as our key affected populations that need more effective targeting with HIV prevention interventions.”

As thousands of people thronged the Midlands town for the commemorations, VP Mnangagwa underscored how funding remained a major challenge stifling the national response to HIV and AIDS adding that the Government was exploring various sustainable ways to augment funding for the national response.

“I’m aware that funding is a major challenge stifling the national response to HIV and AIDS. More than 80 percent of the funding for the response comes from external sources.

“To underline our commitment, the Government of Zimbabwe introduced the National AIDS Trust Fund (NATF), commonly known as the AIDS Levy and I’m impressed to note that it has been recognised as an international best practice and attracted countries like Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, Botswana and Mozambique for insights into initiating similar levies.

“The levy is, however, still inadequate to cover all requirements. In addition to continuing to engage our donors and partners in this regard, the Government of Zimbabwe is exploring various sustainable ways to augment funding for the national response,” he said.

VP Mnangagwa urged the ministry and its partners to expand provision of and access to viral load testing in line with the third 90 percent in the fast track targets adding that viral loading testing was essential to ascertain the health status and how well anti-retroviral treatment is controlling the virus in people on treatment.

He also assured the Ministry of Health and Child Care support as it moves towards the achievement of the 90-90-90 UNAIDS ambitious targets.

“The Government of Zimbabwe remains focused and committed to achieving the 90-90-90 treatment targets and ending AIDS by 2030.

“The 90-90-90 targets speak to 90 percent of people living with HIV knowing their status, 90 percent of people who know their status are on treatment, 90 percent of those on ART having sustainable viral suppression.

“Achieving this goal requires adequate investment in policies, systems and programmes that reduce new HIV infections and ensure provision and access to quality treatment services in line with the fast track targets,” added VP Mnangagwa.