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US Development Agency Honors 13 Zimbabweans For HIV/AIDS Work

U.S. Ambassador James McGee, who recently presented his credentials and took up his post in Harare, on Thursday presented awards to 13 Zimbabweans recognizing their work to end HIV/AIDS discrimination and care for those affected.

The Auxillia Chimusoro awards recognize commitment and courage in breaking silence around HIV/AIDS, reducing stigmatization and discrimination against the HIV-positive and AIDS sufferers, and caring for the HIV-positive and AIDS patients.

Auxillia Chimusoro of southeastern Masvingo Province was one of the first in Zimbabwe to openly declare that she was HIV-positive in 1989 and went on to establish more than 50 support groups before her death in 1998. The awards in her name were established by the U.S. Agency for International Development in 2000.

Correspondent Derek Moyo reported on the ceremony at Harare's National Gallery.

The government, meanwhile, on Wednesday launched a national strategic framework intended to increase the private sector contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The state-run Herald newspaper quoted Labor Secretary Lancaster Museka as saying that senior managers in most companies are “reluctant to implement effective policies,” resulting in a slow response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic by private companies.

The three-year framework aims to unite the public and private sectors in preventing HIV infection, supporting those living with HIV/AIDS and caring for AIDS patients.

Group Health Education Officer Maria Masunga of ZB Financial Holdings, which runs an HIV/AIDS program for employees, their families and retirees, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the economic crisis has made it almost impossible for companies to step up in-house efforts against HIV/AIDS.

She said Zimbabwean enterprises need assistance from international organizations such as the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.

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