Thandeka Moyo Bulawayo Bureau
ZIMBABWE will next week embark on a new HIV study to help measure the country’s progress toward UNAIDS’ 90-90-90 goals and guide policy and funding priorities.
The UNAIDS targets that in 2020, 90 percent of people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90 percent of people who know their HIV-positive status will be on treatment and 90 percent of people on treatment will have a suppressed viral load.
The Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA) 2020 survey will also measure HIV-related risk behaviours using a nationally representative sample.
The ZIMPHIA study is a population household survey led by the Health and Child Care Ministry working in collaboration with the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT), National Aids Council (NAC), and ICAP at the Columbia University.
It is supported by the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) through the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A similar study, the first of its kind in Africa was carried out in 2015 and showed that Zimbabwe’s HIV prevalence had dropped to 14,6 percent.
The data capturing process under the new study is set to start on Monday next week.
It is expected to be completed by end of March 2020 and results are expected to be out by December 1 next year when the country joins the world in commemorating World Aids Day.
Speaking during a ZIMPHIA 2020 Matabeleland North sensitisation meeting yesterday, acting NAC chief executive Mr Amon Mpofu said ZIMPHIA’s goal is to examine the distribution of the HIV epidemic and assess the coverage of HIV services at population level.
“The new ZIMPHIA 2020 data will help Zimbabwe document its achievements in the HIV response and help inform improvements. The survey will also help measure Zimbabwe’s progress toward UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals and guide policy and HIV funding priorities,” said Mr Mpofu.
He urged members of the public to work on reducing new HIV cases to help the country end Aids by 2030.
“We therefore need everyone to play a part in promoting this survey and we rely on our leaders to ensure people are well informed as we would need their cooperation during data gathering,” said Mr Mpofu.
He urged traditional and religious leaders as well as teachers to take an active part in promoting the survey for communities to appreciate the whole process of data gathering.
Matabeleland North provincial medical director Dr Pugie Chimberengwa said people need to change their attitude towards HIV to avoid a serious comeback of the disease given that despite major achievements, there are still high new cases.
He said members of the public have over the years relaxed which may lead to carelessness and an increase in new HIV cases.
“We need to keep our heads high and do everything in our power to reduce new infections in our districts.
“Our prevalence remains high as a province and we need to take HIV seriously even though we have achieved a milestone in reducing deaths,” said Dr Chimberengwa.