Zimbabwe Achieves UNAIDS Targets and Leads the Way in HIV Prevention and Treatment

The country has also recorded the highest decline of new HIV infections in Eastern and Southern Africa in the past decade

by Victor Adetimilehin

Zimbabwe has made remarkable progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, becoming one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa to reach the UNAIDS 95-95-95 goals. The country has also reduced new HIV infections by 78 percent in the past decade, the highest decline in the region.

According to UNAIDS, the 95-95-95 targets mean that 95 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 95 percent of those who know their status are on treatment, and 95 percent of those on treatment have suppressed viral loads. Achieving these targets is crucial for ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the achievements on Wednesday, during the World AIDS Day commemorations. He said that the country had managed to control the HIV epidemic and achieve a net reduction in infections and deaths, despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Presently, new infections are now less than the number of deaths per year. Over the past 10 years, Zimbabwe recorded the highest decline of 78 percent in new HIV infections in Eastern and Southern Africa,” he said.

He also revealed that the country’s antiretroviral therapy (ART) coverage was at 99 percent of the 1.3 million people living with HIV, which is well above the regional average of 73 percent. However, he expressed concern over the low coverage among children, with only 64 percent of those estimated to be living with HIV knowing their status.

He urged parents and guardians to be more responsible and save the lives of their children and young people. He also called for more efforts to address the drug abuse problem that is associated with new HIV infections among the youth.

The president commended the role of communities and stakeholders in the HIV response, especially the First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, who has been leading countrywide campaigns to raise awareness and promote HIV prevention and testing services.

He also thanked the funding and development partners who have supported the country’s HIV response over the years, and expressed the country’s readiness to share its lessons and best practices with other nations.

Zimbabwe is set to host the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA 2023) next week, which will bring together experts, policymakers, activists, and people living with HIV from across the continent and beyond. The conference will provide a platform for sharing and exchanging cutting-edge evidence and innovations in the response to HIV and other epidemics.

Zimbabwe has shown that it is possible to achieve the UNAIDS targets and make significant strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS, even in the face of economic and health challenges. The country’s success story is an inspiration for other nations and a testament to the power of community-led initiatives and partnerships.

Source: The Herald

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