Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe last week told Parliament that the country should focus on poverty alleviation if it is to effectively fight against the rapid progression of the HIV virus to Aids.
Khupe, who is the ambassador for the Global Network for Women in Africa against HIV and Aids, said out of the 1,1 million people infected with the virus in Zimbabwe, 600 000 were women while 105 000 were children.
The DPM was answering a question raised in Parliament by the MDC-T Deputy Chief Whip and MP for Bulawayo Central, Dorcas Sibanda, who wanted to know about government policy on women and children who were the most vulnerable groups in the transmission of HIV and Aids.
She said it was imperative to ensure there was food stability in the country, which would help people infected with the virus to respond quickly to anti-retroviral treatment (ART) to prolong their lives.
DPM Khupe said it was pointless to place people on ART if they did not have food as such a situation would be more harmful to patients.
She said much of the focus in the fight against the pandemic should be on making sure there were no new HIV infections.
“We want to make sure there are zero new HIV infections and zero mother-to-child infections.
A lot of children get infected by their mothers because some women do not register pregnancies or go for medical check-ups to ensure they undergo medication once the virus is detected,” said Khupe.
She said if there were no new HIV infections, Zimbabwe would then be able to channel its resources to the 1,1 million people already infected by the virus.
In response to Chivi South MP Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana who wanted to know what practical steps government was taking to prevent further infections, Khupe encouraged abstinence and massive HIV sensitisation programmes.
“First of all I think it is important that we abstain whenever possible and use protective measures whenever we want to engage in sexual activity.
“We also want to ensure there is food on the table so that when we give them ARVs we know that those tablets will make them well,” said Khupe.