Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
BULAWAYO province has, for the first time in years, recorded the least new HIV infections in Zimbabwe.
The province, according to 2016 Zimbabwe Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA), recorded an 18 percent decrease from 8 584 cases recorded in 2014.
According to the 2016 HIV and Aids Estimates, Bulawayo also has the least number of children living with HIV.
“Bulawayo recorded 1 558 new adult HIV cases becoming the least in all the country’s 10 provinces. Midlands province contributed the highest number of adult new infections followed by Harare,” reads the report.
The document, which was compiled by the Ministry of Health and Child Care shows 40 500 new HIV infections in 2016 with the country’s southern region contributing 59 percent of them.
Speaking during the launch of estimates last week, the Ministry of Health and Child Care Aids and TB director, Dr Owen Mugurungi, said Midlands and Harare recorded the highest number of new infections.
“Midlands recorded 5 389 number of adult new infections, Harare recorded 4 513, Mashonaland East 4 301, Matabeleland North 4 160, Matabeleland South 4 129, Masvingo 3 827, Manicaland 3 533, Mashonaland Central 2 690, Mashonaland West 2 563 and Bulawayo had 1 558. Among children, the highest number of new infections occurred in Midlands followed by Matabeleland North and Bulawayo again has the least number of cases,” he said.
Of the total cases, 3 845 were of children while adults recorded 36 661 cases.
National Aids Council (Nac) board chairperson Dr Evaristo Marowa urged members of the public to take full advantage of the data and other available evidence to accelerate targeted combination interventions.
“The recently launched HIV size estimates for 2016 provide data disaggregated by province and gender on the HIV burden and projected impacts of interventions. This information is going to be updated on a yearly basis to assist the country to track the epidemic and responses and plan accordingly as well as enable it to make comparative analysis with other countries,” said Dr Marowa.
“These interventions include rights-based self-testing, index testing, extending HIV testing services at night (moon light HIV testing to reach those difficult to reach), pre-exposure prophylaxis, treatment as prevention, comprehensive condom programming and voluntary medical male circumcision.”
Bulawayo province recorded the highest HIV prevalence rate as well as the highest number of new infections in 2013 and Nac put Bulawayo’s prevalence rate at 20,4 percent then.