By Staff Reporter
Chinhoyi …. National Aids Council (NAC) chief executive officer Dr Bernard Madzima has said the majority of the institution’s programmes were suspended as part of Covid-19 containment measures.
“Although we are still assessing the real impact of COVID-19 and its attendant lockdowns on HIV, indications are that there were disruptions with accessing of services by people living with HIV, pregnant mothers and the general population especially regarding HIV prevention devices such as condoms,” he said.
“Noting the great danger Covid-19 poses to Zimbabwe and potential to reverse the gains recorded in the response to HIV, especially the disruption of access to services, the National AIDS Council immediately embraced the response to COVID-19 and mainstreamed it in the scope of our work.
“We have structures at national, provincial and district levels, which are very active in the dual response to HIV and COVID-19.
“In addition to funds allocations, we also procured PPE for various key sectors and organization, which are critical in the response as well as those at increased risk of infection.”
Dr Madzima said the organization’s increased focus on COVID-19 did not diminish that on HIV.
“We have remained dedicated to our mandate and firmly pursed our targets, with a goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030,” he said.
“Recent survey and estimates have confirmed that Zimbabwe has already achieved the 90-90-90 targets by the end of 2020 and is now geared to pursue the 95-95-95 targets.”
According to the ZIMPHIA 2020, HIV incidence dropped from 0.5 percent in 2016 to 0.45 percent, while HIV prevalence has also declined from 13.9 percent to 11.8, percent in the same period.
“While these achievements have been pleasing, there is a lot we still have to do to achieve epidemic control,” Dr Madzima said.
“Our communities still require optimized sub-population and geographic specific HIV prevention services, coupled with treatment aimed at viral load suppression and those that address modern threats from drug resistant TB, non-communicable diseases and the busting of social safety nets.
“The need for integration of COVID-19 is paramount in this regard, as we seek to bring in check the twin epidemic of HIV and COVID-19.”
Dr Madzima said the institution was seeking ways to improve reduce the impact of HIV.
“Guided by the Zimbabwe National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan IV (2021-25), we intend by 2025 to reduce new HIV infections by 80 percent, reduce AIDS deaths by 80 percent and end all forms of stigma and discrimination,” he said.