The Sunday News
Joel Tsvakwi, Sunday life Correspondent
CURBING the spread of HIV and Aids through support groups at grassroots levels has to be a lifestyle panacea in ensuring that the fight of the scourge of HIV and Aids in communities is realised.
This was emphasised during the launch of HIV and Aids work support group dubbed Vimbiso/Isithembiso at the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service Ntabazinduna Training School in Umguza district recently.
Zimbabwe National Network of People living positively with HIV (ZNNP+), a group formed in 1992 by seven people and later registered in 1999 to be a non-governmental organisation has grown enormously in the fight of the pandemic.
ZNNP+, the only network of that nature in Africa, is complementing efforts of the National Aids Council (Nac) which is the co-ordinating body in creating support groups to prevent the spread of HIV and Aids.
Support groups for people living with HIV and Aids related illness are key in ensuring the achievements of the millennial development goals aimed at achieving zero new infections and lowering the CD4 counts to undetectable levels to those on Anti-retroviral treatments(ARVs).
ZNNP+ has penetrated the usual closed environs in pushing some of its core business of disseminating correct, and adequate information on HIV and related issues in Umguza District by the assistance of more than 35 stakeholders all aimed for the same cause of preventing the spread of HIV.
According to ZNNP+ a support group can be formed by 5 to 20 people which includes both people who are positive and negative as opposed to during the formative years when it was concerned with infected persons only.
Umguza District ZNNP+ focal person, Thembile Sithole, on the occasion of the launch of the Vimbiso/Stembiso work support group, said they are trying to penetrate the environs of key populations.
“Key populations are mainly people living in closed institutions and this include; sex workers, artisanal miners, haulage truck drivers and members of the security forces who are always on the dead end on issues of HIV and Aids so my organisation is advocating for creation of work support groups to disseminate correct information.
“The work support group will among other things discuss rights of people living with HIV and Aids and as it stands one out of five or six people is positive especially if we don’t know our status,” said Sithole.
She added: “If you are negative you will share information, resources and curb the spread of HIV and also assist in family setups and this helps abolish discrimination and stigmatisation of those who are living positively and as an organisation we are creating demand so that everyone can access treatment on HIV, TB and other chronic diseases.”
Sithole, who revealed that she is a living testimony positively surviving with HIV for 24 years now, reiterated that her organisation has adopted an all inclusive approach so as to realise its core business.
“Our major core business is to stop the spread of HIV and Aids and this can be realised by responding to the need and provision of correct information and resource mobilisation to all people, both the infected and non-infected. We have been able to provide care and support and dissemination of information to the whole of Umguza district,” she said.
Meanwhile on the sidelines of the launch, Thembi Nyathi of the Zimbabwe HIV and Aids Activists Urban Community Trust (ZHAAUCT) District Community Officer hailed the initiative.
“This shows that people are responding to nationwide calls to fight HIV and Aids working on grassroots levels and as stakeholders we are happy that a work support group had been formed, this will go a long way in creating interactive platforms to discuss HIV-related issues so as to achieve all set goals in the care and prevention of new infections,” said Nyathi.