Farm Employers Bar Workers From Collecting ARVs

FARM owners and mangers in Mashonalnd East are reportedly barring HIV positive employees from going for their Anti Retro Viral (ARVs) drugs refill run at nearest health institutions owing to hectic schedules in farming communities, HealthTimes has learnt.

By Michael Gwarisa

According to revelations made during a recently held National Aids Council (NAC) media tour in Mashonland East, most farm workers are not given off days to collect their drugs hence making it difficult for people living and HIV and on ART to adhere to their meds.

Speaking to Journalists, Health Centre Committee (HCC) Chair for Mwanza Rural Health Centre, Erica Nhapi said most farm employees were at a disadvantage when it comes to collecting ARVs owing to massive workloads in their environments.

“We noticed that most farm workers are not able to collect their medicines due to the high work load in farming communities and at times managers or foreman deny them off days to come collect their ARVs.

“However through the initiative called Community Art Refill Groups (CARGS, we are managing to also cater for these groups,” said Nhapi.

CARGS  are self-formed groups of people living with HIV within the same geographical area, and led by individuals who have been consistent with their treatment and have the ability to encourage others to adhere to treatment. The model seeks to overcome the costs and challenges faced by people living with HIV in accessing treatment, especially vulnerable communities which live some distance from health centres.

According to the Newsday however, farming communities in Mashonaland East province have recorded a sharp decline in new HIV, Aids infections, as farm workers heed Aids awareness campaigns launched by the National Aids Council (NAC).

According to NAC, positivity rate was high due to a lot of unprotected sex in farming compounds around Marondera district caused by marrying and remarrying within the same compound. The organisation, however, descended in the farms and held massive campaigns on HIV prevention.

In 2010, positivity rate was high mainly at Bemba Farm, where 39% of the tested farm workers had sexual transmitted infections. Mashonaland East Province has a number of commercial farms that employ thousands of people.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has recorded significant progress in reducing new infections, which have dropped by more than 50% from 1,42% in 2011 to 0,48% in 2016.

Zimbabwe is also now regarded as the global leader in HIV prevention, including the eastern and southern African regional HIV prevention revitalisation agenda that our Health and Child Care minister is steering

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