Most men shun HIV testing

Auxilia Katongomara Chronicle Reporter
FEWER men are keen to participate in the Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (Zimphia) exercise compared to women, an official has said. The national HIV testing pilot project, that was launched in October last year, will see participants being tested for syphilis, HIV viral load and CD4 count in the comfort of their homes.

The assessment exercise was launched in Bulawayo last Friday. The survey has already covered Mashonaland Central province and teams are conducting the exercise in Matabeleland North and Manicaland provinces.

Strategic Information Coordinator in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Mutsa Mhangara, said the data collection survey had seen a high response rate than expected, with women embracing the programme more.

“At the moment the finding is that more women are taking part than men. Generally, studies have shown that in uptake of programmes, women are more willing than men,” Dr Mhangara said.

He said in terms of people’s health seeking behaviour, women tend to seek treatment earlier than men.

Dr Mhangara urged adolescents to take part in the programme saying the results would be beneficial to them as the future of the nation.

“I think we still have to do more in this age group of 10-19 so that we’ve more adolescents who are participating in this survey. We’re going to reach them with information which is going to empower them in the fight against HIV/AIDS and will also give them the opportunity to get tested and counselling services will be offered during the process,” said Dr Mhangara.

“So adolescents have to welcome us. Even our teams are well constituted, we’ve young interviewers who are also sensitive to the needs of adolescents. So we’re saying come out and once we get to your households, be on board. You’re the future of the nation. We need to plan for programmes that best suit our adolescents.”

Dr Mhangara said Zimphia seeks to measure the HIV prevalence and incidence at national, provincial and district level. “It’s a survey that occurs in the community where pre-selected households will be reached to measure HIV prevalence and the selection isn’t based on their HIV status but based on the representation at district or provincial level.

“Some people within that household may test positive or negative,” said Dr Mhangara. He said Zimphia also aims to measure the population level and access to HIV services, health facilities and CD4 count, viral load and proportion of viral load suppression.

The survey, which is targeting 30,000 adults and children countrywide by April this year, will see the exercise being conducted in 30 households in Bulawayo. The households were selected from a random sample provided by the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency from the 2012 census.

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