KWEKWE – Some 156 000 children countrywide are currently living with HIV and at least 121 000 in dire need of anti-retroviral therapy (ART), a National Aids Council (NAC) top official said last week.
By Simon Phiri
Presenting statistics during a Midlands provincial non-health prevention sector meeting in Kwekwe, NAC provincial Aids coordinator Mambeu Shumba said the country had over 1,4 million living with HIV and of these, 63 853 died each year living behind about 889 339 Aids orphans.
Shumba said that about 70 280 pregnant women were HIV-positive.
The latest statistics came in the wake of concerted global efforts to ensure an HIV-free generation in the next few years through a combination of prevention measures.
He said a deliberate effort should be made to increase accessibility of HIV and Aids services, adding that more investments should be made towards awareness and prevention programmes.
“The estimated number of people living with HIV is 1,4 million of whom 156 718 are children between the ages 0 to 14 years. Last year, 70 280 pregnant women tested positive and as of last year again, 121 111 children were in need of ART — estimated annual HIV deaths are 63 853 and estimated Aids orphans are 889 339,” Shumba said.
He added: “There is no province with low risk factors and the highest risk factors are generally in provinces with the main border entry points (Beitbridge, Kariba, Victoria Falls, Plumtree, Forbes and Nyamapanda). This suggests that more investments are needed to reduce risks to HIV infections in Zimbabwe.”
The country’s HIV prevalence rate currently stands at 15%.
Mambeu told NewsDay that stigma and discrimination were retarding the fight against HIV and said efforts were being made to address the problem. Meanwhile, NAC Midlands provincial office has said that it spent more than $21 million in 2011 and 2012 towards HIV prevention activities.