Getting tested for HIV is free but having a T–Cell profile, also known
as CD4 count, is an uphill task. Hospitals and the OIC (opportunist
infectious clinics) are overwhelmed with sick people hoping to receive
free ARVs, but that is only possible after their CD4 count has been
On average it takes nearly two years for someone in Zimbabwe to get tested and start receiving ARVs.
Medical Chambers, the only medical laboratory in the capital still
conducting CD4 counts, charges US$ 95 or Z$35 million cash per
individual. If the CD4 count is lower than 200, patients are sent for
another blood test to determine the toxicity vulnerability of the liver
before they are put on ARVs at a cost US$65 or Z$25 million.
These are impossible costs for an average Zimbabwean to afford.
The sharp increase of TB patients has meant that voluntary testing and
counselling centres (VTCs) have been established at most infectious
hospitals. According to the Ministry of Health, one out of two TB
patients is HIV positive.
Most people who test HIV positive will never receive free treatment.
Either they will fall sick and die before they know their CD4 profile,
or they will lose heart and rely on other remedies for their ailments.
BY SIMON MUCHEMWAPost published in: Analysis