HIV Testing and Counselling A Key HIV Prevention Tool-UN

THE Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF) 2016-2020 has identified HIV Testing and Counselling as a key pillar in the HIV prevention equation as it emotionally prepares people to adhere to their medications.

By Michael Gwarisa

According to the ZUNDAF report, the UN in partnership with the government of Zimbabwe have identified behavior change as a key factor in reducing HIV transmission.

“In addressing sexual transmission of HIV, the Government, in close collaboration with the UN and other partners, has prioritised interventions around social and behaviour change; increased condom promotion and distribution, coupled with intensified awareness on correct and consistent use; voluntary medical male circumcision; and prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections.

“These strategies address key drivers and risk factors of the epidemic that include multiple and concurrent partnerships, inter-generational sex, transmission between discordant couples and Low circumcision rates. HIV testing and counselling has been identified as a strategic entry point for both antiretroviral therapy (ART) and many HIV prevention services. Provider initiated testing and counselling services are being scaled up and have been rolled out to 94 per cent of health facilities.” Said the report.

Zimbabwe has a generalized heterosexually-driven HIV epidemic with adult prevalence of 15 per cent (ZDHS 2010/2011) and an annual incidence of 0.98 per cent (National HIV and AIDS Estimates Report 2013).

The country has the third largest HIV burden in Southern Africa after South Africa and Mozambique. Prevalence has nearly halved since the epidemic’s peak in 1997 when it stood at 28 per cent.  HIV prevalence among women aged 15 to 24 is 1.5 times higher than men of the same age (MICS 2014).

“During the period of 2016 to 2020, the UN will contribute to the following outcomes, in line with the impact results approved by Zimbabwe National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan (ZNASP) III Results Framework: 1. HIV incidence among adults and adolescents less than 0.39 (a 75 per cent reduction from a baseline of 0.98 in 2013)  2. Fewer than 1000 new HIV infections among children (a 90 per cent reduction from a baseline of 8958 in 2013).

“In addition, HIV efforts focussed on preventing new infections in children and keeping mothers alive will contribute to reducing HIV-attributable maternal mortality.”

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is a signatory to a number of HIV-related regional and international commitments endorsed and adopted by Zimbabwe include the 2012 roadmap on shared responsibility and global solidarity for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria response in Africa developed by the African Union Commission among others.

“UN agencies will continue to work with the Government, communities, development partners and other stakeholders to build support for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support interventions that reach young people in schools, communities and health facilities.

“Ensuring that HIV prevention measures are sustainable means linking them to education, health and social service delivery systems. It also means integrating HIV-specific efforts with social protection and employment policies and programmes for workers and young people, especially young women and girls.”

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