Behavioural change needed to overcome HIV challenge

02 Dec, 2022 - 00:12 0 Views
Behavioural change needed to overcome HIV challenge

The Chronicle

We are not there yet, but the national anti-Aids fight is promising
Three years ahead of time, the country has achieved and surpassed the global target on HIV testing, treatment and viral suppression.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids aims for HIV testing, treatment and viral suppression rates to be 95 percent-95 percent-95 percent by 2025.

Dr Chiedza Mupanguri, the National Anti-Retroviral Therapy Coordinator in the Ministry of Health and Child Care said early last month that of all the HIV-positive people in the country, 95 percent now have undetectable HIV-1 RNA regardless of previous diagnosis or antiretroviral therapy status.

Among those who know their status, the percentage has surpassed the required target and is now at 96 percent; those who are positive and are on antiretroviral therapy are 97 percent, she said.

“The country has met the viral suppression target in the UNAIDS 95-95-95 target and is one of the highest reported levels of population viral suppression globally,” Dr Mupanguri said.
At least 1,3 million people are living with HIV in the country, 1,2 million of whom are adults, and the remainder are children.

The national HIV prevalence rate is now 11,6 percent, from as high as 26 percent in the early 2000s. New HIV infections and deaths associated with HIV and Aids are declining sharply.
As the country and the rest of the globe marked  yesterday, these successes that have made the country’s HIV response strategy an envy of many nations, came to the fore.

While a number of countries are still grappling with the challenge, a little more than two decades since it was first reported on the continent, we are on course to containing it by 2030.

HIV and Aids

The theme for the year was “Equalise,” which highlights the need to ensure that essential HIV services reach those who are most at risk and in need, particularly children living with HIV. The national theme was “Access, Empowerment, Inclusivity,

Opportunities and the Upholding of Human Rights.”
In his message to mark the day, President Mnangagwa hailed the successes the country has scored in its fight against the scourge.
“It is encouraging that the prevalence rate continues to decline, with new infections cropping from 31 600 in 2018 to 22 800 in 2021,” said the President.

“Relatedly, the number of people dying from HIV/Aids dropped from 25 200 to 20 200 during the same period. We are not yet where we want to be, more work must be done.”

Public health

Indeed, the national record is encouraging, given the enormity of the challenge when it emerged; when infection meant emaciating, dehumanising morbidity and death. Now, up to 1, 2 million of the infected are leading healthy lives and have undetectable HIV. Fewer and fewer people are getting infected and losing their lives to the condition.

The Government and its partners must intensify the work that they are doing against the viral infection so we can contain it just as we have done with polio and measles among other diseases. It is also critical for our people to shun risky sexual behaviour which often leads to infection. Yes, not everyone who is HIV positive engaged in risky sexual behaviour. Some, we acknowledge, were raped and got infected, others were born positive by a mother living with the virus. That is regrettable but the largest fraction of infections are a result of delinquent sexual behaviour.

Let us try as much as we can to behave better. Those who can’t must make use of tools that are freely available to ensure that they remain healthy and safe. They must use the condom consistently and correctively. If they don’t have them, and feel they are likely to engage or actually end up engaging, they can take pre or post-exposure prophylaxis as necessary.

Share This: