56% not on ARVs

arvHARARE - At least 56 per cent of HIV positive people in Zimbabwe are not accessing Anti-retroviral treatment at a time the world is encouraging equal access to AIDS services as a human right, AIDS organisations have announced.

Zimbabwe, on December 1, joined the whole world in commemorating World AIDS day, with a local theme ‘Universal Access and Human Rights, together we will make it’.

In a joint statement Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Services SAFAIDS and the Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS, the AIDS organisations said the government should increase and improve AIDS services which are a nightmare in the country.

Currently, over 340 000 people living with HIV are in urgent need of ART (DC4 count of 200 and below) 593 168 in need of ART (CD4 count of 350 and below) with only 259 000 people accessing ART including 10 000 through the private sector. This means that those in need of treatment, only 44% are able to obtain it, read the statement.

AIDS organisations cited a critical shortage of material resources as the major problem affecting quality and enough AIDS service. Shortages of diagnostic equipment, laboratories and qualified health personnel are some of the barriers to the efficient delivery of health care services. In HIV management, diagnostic equipment such as CD4 count machines is key, yet they are only approximately 54 in the whole country and more than 200 health facilities.

Machines to perform viral load and other supportive tests are even fewer and are concentrated in the urban areas. Where they are available they are too few to meet demand. This results in regular breakdowns because of inadequate human and financial resources, noted the statement.

According National AIDS Council HIV prevalence among the 15-49 age group is at 14,26 per cent declining from 15,6 per cent.

NAC attributed the deterioration of AIDS services to government’s reluctance to fund the country’s ART program. It said the country needed over US$700 million for the ART program, but the government had allocated a third of the amount leaving the health sector under funded.

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