WASHINGTON DC —
The National Aids Council says it is working hard to ensure full access to anti-retroviral drugs for any Zimbabwean who tests HIV positive.
Health Minister Dr. David Parirenyatwa last week said every HIV positive Zimbabwean should have access to life-prolonging treatments from the moment they receive their results.
Currently 725,000 Zimbabweans are on treatment out of an estimated 1, 2 million HIV-positive people.
The ministry, which follows the World Health Organization CD4 count of 500, said it is mooting an ambitious plan to provide treatment regardless of a person’s CD4 count.
CD4 cells provide a measure of the strength of the immune system, how far the AIDS virus has progressed, and helps predict the risk of complications and infection.
According to the World Health Organization evidence shows that treating people with HIV earlier, with safe, affordable, and easier-to-manage medicines can both keep them healthy and lower the amount of virus in the blood, which reduces the risk of passing it to someone else.
Parirenyatwa said the nationwide provision of ARV’s was a tall order, but important to those people living with HIV.
National AIDS Council financial director, Albert Manenji, said current statistics show that Zimbabwe no longer has waiting list for treatment, and those that avail themselves for treatment are treated, adding though funding is an issue, the government along with other partners are hopeful to make 100% treatment standard.
Manenji said some current challenges are keeping those on treatment to remain on treatment for life, as some people discontinue ARV’s after “feeling or looking better.”
“There are cases where people will divorce treatment as a result of some beliefs that are there, particularly you’ve got people who are informed by their beliefs that they have been healed and they can discontinue treatment,” said Manenji.
He added any person who is HIV positive will be assisted by the health ministry to receive both counseling and treatment.