Over 84 000 people died from HIV and Aids-related diseases in 2009.
According to the Zimbabwe National Strategic Framework for HIV and Aids 2011-2015 (ZNASP II) draft document, Zimbabwe is working towards reducing the annual HIV and Aids death toll to below 59 000 over the same period by 2015, as the country moves to consolidate gains made.
However, National Aids Council (NAC) operations director Raymond Yekeye said the figure currently stands at 66 000.
The draft document also sets an ambitious target to reduce new HIV infections from 66 000 annually in 2009 to 46 000 by 2015.
The draft document consists of four thematic areas that include HIV prevention, HIV and Aids treatment, care and support, enabling environment and management and coordination of the national response.
“For every two Zimbabweans who began anti-retroviral treatment in 2009, another one individual got infected with HIV,” reads part of the draft.
“The lifetime cost of treating HIV is estimated to be approximately $14 000. Unless this trend is reversed and the number of new infections is sharply reduced, efforts to expand access to HIV treatment will falter and countless numbers of Zimbabwean will die as a result of unavoidable infections.”
The new policy to be implemented next year seeks to reduce the percentage of HIV-infected infants born to HIV positive mothers from 30% in 2009 to less than 5% by 2015.
The percentage of pregnant women aged 15-19 who are HIV-infected is expected to be reduced from 6,8% in 2009 to 6% in 2011, 5% in 2013 and 4,5% by 2015. NAC said one of the greatest lessons from the HIV and Aids epidemic is that there is no single “magic bullet” that would stem the tide of new HIV infections. A combination of approaches is necessary.
The document notes that if Zimbabwe could eliminate mother-to-child transmission during the life of the ZNASP 2011-2015, annual infections could be reduced by a further 10 000.
Circumcising approximately 240 000 HIV negative men aged 15-29 annually between 2011 and 2015 is also expected to reduce new infections by approximately 6 800 per year.
“It is also estimated that with expanded HIV testing and counselling and condom promotion and distribution anchored within targeted social and behaviour change communication interventions, an additional 2 000 infections could be reduced annually,” reads part of the draft.
“The aim is also to ensure that young men aged 15-29 in particular are also aware of their HIV status in order to ensure that the expected results for male circumcision are achieved.