Zimbabwe achieves HIV epidemic control Dr Mugurungi

Wendy Nyakurerwa-Matinde

Zimbabwe has achieved HIV epidemic control, a critical point where the total number of new HIV infections fall below the total number of deaths, with both indices declining, a senior Government official has said.
The country initiated its antiretroviral therapy programme in April 2004 and significant gains have been recorded over the past three decades.

Adult (15-49 years) prevalence has fallen from its peak of 26.5 percent in 1997 to 10.49 percent in 2021.

However, HIV/AIDS remains a major public threat in the country.

Speaking at an Editors’ workshop organised by the National AIDS Council in Chinhoyi yesterday, Director of the AIDS and TB Unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Owen Mugurungi said Zimbabwe has made tremendous progress in responding to HIV, adding that the country is well on track to ending the AIDS pandemic by 2030.

“Of the 1.3 million Zimbabweans living with HIV, more than 1.2 million are now on life-saving HIV treatment. About 97 percent of those on treatment have also achieved viral suppression, meaning they can no longer transmit the virus to their partners if they continue to take their treatment,” said Dr Mugurungi.

Whilst ART does not cure HIV and AIDS, and should therefore be taken for life, it reduces mortality and morbidity if used appropriately.

As a result of various HIV interventions, Zimbabwe’s national HIV incidence has declined by over 50 percent over the past ten years.

In 2023, the incidence was at 0.15 percent and there was a decline in new HIV infections for all age groups.

All these gains have seen the country achieving the 95-95-95 United Nations Programme (UNAIDS) targets on HIV/AIDS, resulting in a decrease in infections and deaths.

Dr Mugurungi said Zimbabwe achieved the 95-95-95 targets among adults ahead of schedule.

He, however, expressed concern over the fact that the coverage is lagging behind among children, with HIV status known for only 64 percent of those estimated to be living with HIV.

Hundred percent of children who know their status have been initiated on ART and 89 percent are virally suppressed.

He challenged the Ministry of Health and Child Care and its partners to scale up the necessary interventions, including ensuring that all pregnant women register for antenatal care and testing them for HIV to prevent the transmission of HIV to unborn babies.

Zimbabwe hosted the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) last year.

The conference was a platform for sharing lessons on HIV response and other epidemics afflicting the world.

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