THE Midlands province has recorded an increase in the number of people on antiretroviral therapy (ART) with the figures jumping by more than 700 by March 2018 as more people living with HIV were initiated on therapy, a National Aids Council (NAC) official has said.
BY STEPHEN CHADENGA /VANESSA GONYE
NAC Midlands provincial manager, Mambewu Shumba said over the years there has been a general increase in the number of people living with HIV on ART as a result of decentralisation of services and availability of medicines.
“In the Midlands, the total number of people receiving ART as from January to March 2018 is 134 868 from 134 071 in 2017,” Shumba said at a NAC media workshop in Kwekwe last Friday.
“People living with HIV, during the same period (January to March 2018) in the province, stands at 177 286.”
Shumba said out of the eight districts in the province, only Gokwe North had 100% of its facilities offering ART services.
He said facilities not offering ART services in districts such as Zvishavane, Kwekwe and Gweru were mostly private.
Shumba said the estimated rate of new infections in the province was 0,59% as at 2016, with the highest incidence for adults being in Mberengwa and Gokwe South while that for children was in Kwekwe and Gweru.
He said the estimated HIV prevalence for Midlands was at 13,1% with Mberengwa also recording the highest HIV prevalence as a result of mining activities in the area and truck drivers among other high-risk groups.
“Our prevention efforts, however, continue to bear fruits as both incidence and prevalence continue to decrease,” he said.
Speaking at the celebrations of the one million men circumcision milestone in Zimbabwe and the launch of the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) strategy in Epworth on Friday, Health minister, David Parirenyatwa said: “We are also launching our Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Strategy for the period 2018 to 2020. This is an add-on to our bag of tools and approaches for HIV prevention that we had in the past.”
“We are fully confident that if we are also now able to reach out to those at higher risk of HIV with an intervention that meets their needs, then we have a greater chance of ending HIV by 2030; we have evidence that PrEP is effective and if taken correctly, provides up to 90% protection against HIV.”
Parirenyatwa said PrEP is meant for at-risk populations.