ARV defaulters worry government
By Chengeto Chidi
Ministry of Health and Child Care is worried over HIV and Aids patients who default on their medication for various reasons leading to avoidable deaths.
Health minister Obadiah Moyo, speaking as he launched a Comprehensive National HIV Communications Strategy for Zimbabwe 2019-2025 aimed at ending HIV and AIDS, said defaulting was a concern.
“We have groups of those living with HIV who are stopping or not adhering to their medications, that is ARVs and either die prematurely or end up being drug-resistant and requiring second and at times even third-line treatment regimens that are more expensive,” he said.
The ministry of health has in the past confronted prophets and other traditional healers who have claimed to have powers that cure HIV, leading to most of their followers defaulting on medication.
Moyo said despite this setback there has been a significate drop in the HIV prevalence rate in the country calling on more work to bring the numbers even lower.
“At national scale, we have over the years recorded significant milestones that include bringing down the HIV prevalence rate from 29 percent in 1999 to the current 13,7 percent amongst the adult population, the incidence rate, that is the number of new infections has gone down from 1.42 in 2011 to 0.48 in 2016,” he said.
Despite these milestones, there are other areas in Zimbabwe where the rate of new infections continues to sour according to the minister.
“We still have geographical pockets in our nation where new infections are still on the rise,” he said.
Government is now focusing on social behaviour change communication in response to the challenges in the fight against HIV and Aids He urged provincial teams, partners of the ministry to disseminate and implement the strategy and use it as a guidance document for all public health communication in HIV-related work.
The strategy put together by the ministry and the AIDS and TB Unit serves as a key answer to the area of social behaviour change communication.