Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
ZIMBABWE has made significant progress in bringing the HIV and Aids epidemic under control and the country has the potential to achieve the 90–90–90 targets to end the Aids epidemic by 2020, the US government has said.
In a statement, US Secretary of State Mr Rex Tillerson said the epidemic was also coming under control in Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland and Zambia which are among the 13 high burden countries. Zimbabwe has the fifth highest HIV prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa.
Mr Tillerson attributed the progress made in the five countries in controlling the epidemic largely to his country’s support.
The United States, through its President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) remains the largest bilateral donor to the global HIV and Aids response.
“The latest PEPFAR data shows that, largely through the US government’s support, the HIV and Aids epidemic is coming under control in five of these 13 countries; Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The data also indicate that the previously expanding HIV epidemic in Uganda has now stabilised,” reads the statement.
Mr Tillerson also released the new PEPFAR Strategy for Accelerating HIV and Aids Epidemic Control (2017-2020), which reaffirms US support for HIV and Aids efforts in more than 50 countries.
“The Strategy also outlines plans to accelerate implementation in a subset of 13 high-burden countries that have the potential to achieve HIV and Aids epidemic control by 2020, working in collaboration with host governments; the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund); the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids; and other partners,” he said.
According to the 2017 Global Aids update report released in July this year, Zimbabwe is among the leading countries in the Eastern and Southern African region in meeting the target. The report notes that knowledge of HIV status among people living with the virus in Zimbabwe was at 75 percent, just one percent short of the regional average.
Rwanda, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia are the only countries in the region that have done better than Zimbabwe, managing 87, 86, 85 and 77 percent respectively. Madagascar has a meagre seven percent to rank as the lowest on the first 90 target to rank lowest in the region.
On the second target to ensure that 90 percent of all people who are living with HIV and know their status are put on treatment, the report shows that Zimbabwe has so far achieved 82 percent, three percent above the regional average of 79 percent.
Botswana has achieved the highest on the second 90 target with an estimated 85 percent of people living with HIV in the country now on treatment.
On the 90 targets, the report shows, Zimbabwe has managed to have virally suppressed, about 72,5 percent of people living with HIV and are on treatment. Botswana ranks highest, having achieved 81 percent while Malawi ranks lowest with only 26 percent of people living with HIV in that country virally suppressed. The regional average is pegged at 66 percent.
Zimbabwe has reported that it has successfully averted close to 1,7 million Aids-related deaths and three million new HIV infections over the past 16 years. -@irielyan