Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Health Reporter
ABOUT 22 000 people died of Aids-related illnesses in Zimbabwe last year with reports that the highest number of deaths were recorded in Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South, Harare and Mashonaland West provinces.
The figure has however relatively gone down compared to five years ago when more than 30 000 people would succumb to the virus.
From the first case detected in the mid-1980s, HIV spread rapidly in Zimbabwe during the first decade.
By the mid-1990s, one-quarter of adults in the country were infected with HIV and the infections were driven by heterosexual intercourse.
Recent statistics show that Zimbabwe has a 11,9 percent HIV prevalence, the fifth highest in Africa, translating to about 1,3 million people living with HIV.
In a report submitted to trace progress made by the country in meeting global targets of ending Aids by 2030, the National Aids Council (Nac) chief executive officer Dr Bernard Madzima said Aids mortality significantly declined by 71,9 percent from 488 in 2010 to 137 in 2020 per 100 000.
“There was a 28,6 percent 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 percent for both adults and children by 2020. A total of 22 000 deaths were recorded last year and the mortality rate remains higher than the national target in some provinces,” he said.
Matabeleland South is leading with 170,49 percent followed by Harare at 166,71 percent and then Matabeleland North at 161,77 percent.
Mashonaland East province has the fourth highest mortality at 154,48 followed by Bulawayo at 143,92.
Nac statistics also show that Manicaland and Mashonaland West provinces have the least mortality rates at 106,01 percent and 11,78 percent respectively.
“The country is on track to reach the epidemic control phase if it continues to implement high impact geo-targeted interventions,” said Dr Madzima.
He attributed the reduction in Aids deaths and new infections to an integrated HIV Testing Services (HTS) model, which deployed different testing approaches for different populations.
“The approaches included facility-based testing- provider initiated and client-initiated testing and counselling, facility and community-based index testing, HIV self-testing and targeted mobile outreach testing. HTS is also offered in several primary healthcare sites including TB, ANC, STI and MNCH,” he said.
Dr Madzima said the HTS programme was also integrated into other prevention services such as the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision, Pre Exposure Prophylaxis, Post Exposure Prophylaxis and is part of the package for the DREAMS initiative for AGYW. — @thamamoe