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America Committed to Helping Zimbabwe Fight AIDS, Says US Ambassador

The U.S ambassador to Zimbabwe said Wednesday that Washington will continue to support programs in Zimbabwe to prevent the spread of HIV-AIDS and to treat and care for the afflicted despite the differences between Washington and Harare.

American Ambassador Christopher Dell restated the U.S. commitment at a ceremony recognizing winners of the Auxillia Chimusoro Award for commitment and leadership in battling HIV-AIDS. The award is named for a Zimbabwean woman who declared her HIV-positive status in 1989 despite the enormous stigma then attached to such disclosure and the risk of discrimination. Auxillia Chimusoro died in 1998.

Dell noted that more than 300,000 Zimbabweans are in need of antiretroviral drug treatment but that only about 40,000 currently receive them. He said care and support remain critical issues in the country, while the AIDS pandemic has left an estimated 1.6 million orphans in Zimbabwe – the largest number per capita in the world.

The U.S. ambassador said the American government is committed to working side by side with Zimbabweans in their fight to overcome the HIV-AIDS pandemic.

Zimbabwe receives some US$24 million a year in assistance related to HIV-AIDs, U.S. Global Aids Coordinator Dr. Mark Dybul said in a recent Washington briefing, noting that in terms of such aid Zimbabwe is in the top 20 of 120 countries worldwide.

Correspondent Fazila Mahomed reported on the awards ceremony.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 For Zimbabwe...