ZIMBABWE has about 300 000 people living with HIV still on the sidelines of accessing treatment services due to poor health seeking behavior among other things.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
This emerged during a two day Men’s Dialogue involving Traditional and Faith Based leaders on HIV and Health in Harare. On the sidelines of the event, Health Ministry National PMTCT and Pediatric HIV Care and Treatment Coordinator Dr Angela Mushavi told HealthTimes that they have learnt that a large number of those left behind in accessing HIV services are men.
In our country we have 1,32 million people living with HIV. So far in our data we can see that about 1,094000 are on treatment. And basically what we are saying is that we need to find the remaining almost 300 000 people who are HIV Positive and who are not on treatment.
“In our data we also see that the majority who are not on treatment are men and young people. We have a gap when we look at the 90-90-90 targets. We really need strategies to engage men. Strategies to engage the young boys so that they can come in and be tested and know their HIV status.
“We are not saying that the 300 000 are men who are not yet found but the majority are men and young people. Which is why we believe engaging the traditional leadership, engaging communities of faith maybe able to help us to reach men,” she said.
She explained that the 300 000 were being left behind on the back of cultural, religious and individual perceptions on health.
“I think sometimes people are afraid to test. Or some people are just not reached. We do have communities maybe that are not reached and we have in our country sometimes religion that stops people from coming to seek healthcare. And so I think the question is how do we reach those who have not been reached?
“And how can we help men overcome the fear of getting tested? And you heard in this meeting that ministry of health and child care is giving HIV self-test kits so that men and young people can get their HIV tests in the comfort of their homes so that hopefully this will help them know their status and be put on treatment,” said Dr Mushavi.
The incumbent UNAIDS Zimbabwe Country Director said despite Zimbabwe doing well in attaining the 90-90-90 targets on HIV, there still needs some fine tuning cover the missing gap.
“Zimbabwe is doing very well when you compare it with the rest of the world. Zimbabwe is doing very well on the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets. That is in getting 90 percent of the people to know their status of HIV, and these 90 percent of them to be receiving Anteretrovial treatment and of those receiving antiretroviral treatment, 90 percent of them to be virally suppressed.
“Now if you at the data in 2018 for Zimbabwe but then we are talking about 91 percent, 89 percent and 77percent. So we are doing very well particularly with the first and second 90. We have to put in some effort for the third 90,” he said.