A recent global AIDS progress report released by the National Aids Council (NAC) in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) and UNAIDS indicates there was a drop in the number of children on Antiretro Viral Therapy (ART) in 2018.
By Michael Gwarisa
The decline has been attributed to successful implementation of Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV efforts which include the adoption of new viral load and HIV testing technologies as well as the setting up of an EMTCT validation committee.
According to the report, the number of children on ART has decreased from 89 percent in 2017 to 65 percent in 2018 while that of adults on ART increased from 84 percent to 89 percent in the same period.
The report indicates that there has been a decline in Mother Top Child Transmission cases since the year 2011, from 18 percent in 2011 to 8 percent in 2018.
“There was an increase in percentage of pregnant women living with HIV who received antiretroviral medicine to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV between 2017 and 2018.
“Final transmission including breastfeeding period was at 8.5% in 2018 indicating that we are on track towards achieving the global elimination target of less than 5% by 2022. The following figure shows the trend in estimated percentage of children newly infected with HIV from mother-to-child transmission among women living with HIV delivering in the past 12 months,” said the report.
The percentage of infants born to women living with HIV receiving a virological test for HIV within two months of birth remained static between 2017 and 2018.
There were 1,560 health facilities that offered Option B+ services in Zimbabwe. The following figure shows women receiving ARVs to reduce mother-to-child transmission.
Meanwhile, in a bid to eliminate mother to child transmission (eMTCT) and to facilitate effective implementation of the Operational Plan for eMTCT of HIV and Syphilis (2018 – 2022), the country set up a National Validation Committee that was trained by World Health Organization (WHO) in December 2018.
The validation committee was set to guide the country in eMTCT and also steer the country to be validated for eMTCT as they strive to ensure that PMTCT interventions become accessible to all who need them including the most remote areas of the country. Progress towards the desired target is illustrated below.
The report also notes that there has been a decline in AIDS related deaths as a result of increase in survival on ART clients on treatment.