ZIMBABWE’S AIDS mortality has significantly declined from a high of 488 people in 2010 to 137 people per 100,000 people living with HIV in 2020, indicating a 71.9% decline in AIDS deaths over the past decade, the National AIDS Council (NAC) has revealed.
By Michael Gwarisa
The development also follows revelations that the number of people living with HIV across the country was stabilizing as a result of increased number of people who are on Antiretroviral Treatment (ART).
Making an HIV estimates presentation during a virtual 2021 Global Aids Monitoring (GAM) Data Validation meeting, National Aids Council (NAC) Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, Mr Issac Taramusi said the trends of new infections and AIDS related deaths were showing a positive picture.
According to our trends for new infections and trends of our AIDS related deaths, its showing that it is moving towards convergence as a result of the increase in the number of people who are on treatment.
“At the same time, what worries is the increase in the number of AIDS related deaths although we celebrate the ending of the new infections where its moving towards the AIDS related deaths where it should be lower than the AIDS related deaths for us to be in a position to say we have reached epidemic control. But the increase in AIDS related deaths is something that we need to consider to say how can we reduce our AIDS related deaths,” said Mr Taramusi.
He added that there was a 28.6% reduction of AIDS related mortality from 2015 to 2020, which was a miss of ZNASP III objective of reducing HIV/AIDS-related mortality by 50% for both adults and children by 2020. According to national estimates, Matebelenad South had the highest deaths in 2020 with mortality standing at 170.49, followed by Harare which had 166.71, Mashonaland East 154.48, Bulawayo had 143.92, Midlands 137.23, Masvingo 130.67, Mashonaland Central 124.46, Mashonaland West 114.78 and Manicaland 106 .01.
Mr Taramusi added that, “the Highest prevalence was recorded in Tsholotsho – 21.9% and the lowest in Binga – 5.3%. The highest incidence rate was recorded in Bulilima and Mangwe while Mbire and Muzarabani recorded the lowest. Absolute number of new infection were highest in Harare and Bulawayo and lowest in Mbire and Rushina.”
National AIDS Council (NAC) Chief Executive Officer, Dr Bernard Madzima said the GAM validation meeting comes at a time Zimbabwe has succeeded in changing the course of AIDS and has made strides in attaining the universally set targets of ending AIDS by 2030.
“The United Nations General Assembly Declaration on HIV/AIDS has a resolution for intensifying efforts to eliminate HIV/AIDS in order to achieve his fast-track ambitious target where set of which the overall target is to end AIDS by 2030.
“As you are aware, we have been pursuing the three 90s fast-track targets until the end of 2020 which sought to sharpen our focus, diagnosing people, with HIV, linking them to ART and supporting them to achieve viral suppression as a means to reduce global infections to 50000 per year,” said Dr Madzima.
Meanwhile, UNAIDS GAM Focal Person, Mr Martin Oditt said data from the GAM and update from the AIDS response will be used as a basis for new commitments for 2025 and 2030.
“The GAM monitoring lays out the indicators for monitoring the 2016 political declaration on Ending Aids. The Global Aids monitoring process has often been referenced as the benchmark for successful international accountability mechanisms. Lessons from past rounds of the GAM save us well for the upcoming reporting.
“Providing an evidence informed road map for timely high quality and concrete reporting at an accelerated and streamlined pace. They include the following, national consultation process which are important for the validation of data and the involvement of Civil Society in the national validation which is critical especially for responding to questions related to laws and policies and for ensuring that all relevant partners are engaged and play their important roles in the implementation and reporting,” said Oddit.
He added that inequities are slowing down progress to ending AIDS as a public health threat by the year 2030.