Organisation to test 15 000 households for HIV

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OVER 15 000 households are set to be counselled and tested for HIV and Aids in the comfort of their homes during a groundbreaking survey dubbed Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA) to be launched on Friday.

BY PHYLLIS MBANJE

The ZIMPHIA initiative marks Zimbabwe as the first African country to implement such a detailed Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (PHIA) survey.

PHIA surveys will be implemented in 15 to 20 countries, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.

The survey, which will be led by the Ministry of Health in partnership with the National Aids Council, Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, Biomedical Research and Training Institute and other international partners like ICAP at Columbia University, is aimed at measuring the burden of HIV and the impact of Zimbabwe’s HIV prevention, care and treatment services.

“My ministry is very excited about ZIMPHIA as its results will offer us a platform as policymakers to better understand the relative impact of HIV at population level and additionally providing participants with an opportunity to know their HIV status,” Health minister David Parirenyatwa said in a statement.

ZIMPHIA will commence in the next month and is expected to run for a period of six months.

About 15 000 randomly selected households from across Zimbabwe will be visited by ZIMPHIA field teams, who will provide free HIV counselling and return test results for HIV and syphilis to participants the same day and in the privacy and comfort of people’s homes.
Those who test positive for HIV or syphilis will be referred for care at the nearest health facility.

The survey results will act as a baseline benchmarking progress towards the UNAids 90-90-90 targets and help to target programmes and resources towards populations at greatest risk and most in need of services and to guide future investments.

The United States President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) has provided substantial resources for the survey.

Additional resources have been provided by the government and the Global Fund.

“Through PEPFAR, we are committed to continuing our support towards the implementation of HIV and Aids activities in Zimbabwe and, in particular, its first HIV impact assessment,” the US deputy chief of mission to Zimbabwe, Robert Scott, announced.

“We believe that ZIMPHIA is one of the ways to attain epidemic control in Zimbabwe as we continue to work towards the goal of reaching an Aids-free generation.”

The implementation of ZIMPHIA will set a global example for how the next PHIA surveys will be carried out.
ZIMPHIA will complement other national surveys, such as the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey and the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey.