50 percent of Sex Workers Report Using HIV Prevention: UNAIDS

ABOUT 50 percent of sex workers in Zimbabwe reported getting at least two prevention services against HIV in the past three months in 2018, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids (UNAIDS) has said.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

In the Global Aids Update 2019 report released recently, UNAIDS said the possible  prevention services received included condoms and lubricant, counselling on condom use and safe sex, and testing of sexually transmitted infections.

“Despite the availability of a widening array of effective HIV prevention tools and methods—and a massive scale-up of antiretroviral therapy in recent years—there has been insufficient progress in reducing new HIV infections in young people and adults globally,” said UNAIDS.

Zimbabwe was among the three countries that have managed to reduce annual HIV infections of more than 40 percent since 2010.

“Among the 28 countries participating in the Global HIV Prevention Coalition, just three—Eswatini, Uganda and Zimbabwe—have achieved annual infection reductions of more than 40% since 2010. The majority of the coalition countries have made only limited progress (reductions of less than 25%), and a few have made no progress at all,” the organisation said. “Since the launch of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition in late 2017, participating countries have reinvigorated their HIV prevention strategies and aligned their responses to global targets. Nevertheless, major gaps still exist in financing for HIV prevention, providing services at scale and addressing underlying policy and structural barriers affecting communities. In 2018, less than half of locations with high HIV incidence had dedicated HIV prevention programmes for adolescent girls and young women, and less than 50% of key populations were reached with combination prevention services in more than half of the countries that reported data to UNAIDS.”

UNAIDS added that combination prevention methods are found in many countries.

“At the same time, examples of successful combination prevention—including condom programming, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC), viral load suppression through antiretroviral therapy, and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)—exist in many settings.

“Community-based organizations have played a central role in efforts to reach adolescent girls and young women in high-prevalence settings and key populations in all epidemic settings. Innovative webbased and mobile application platforms are generating additional awareness and demand for HIV services. Replicating these successes remains central to achieving the global target of fewer than 200 000 new infections and ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030,” the organisation said.

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