45 000 fail to collect HIV results — NAC

HARARE – At least 45 000 people who screened for HIV in the fourth quarter of the last year failed to collect their results, National Aids Council (Nac) has revealed.

Nac’s HIV Testing and Counselling (HTC) periodic report shows that about 603 000 people were tested during the period under review. Of those, about 558 000 received their results.

At least 53 000 tested positive between October to December.

“425 456 were tested for the first time while 177 231 were re-tests. 6 897 students were among those tested and 1 456 of the students tested positive,” reads the report.

“There was a 1, 7 percent decline in the overall national HIV positivity rate for clients tested as individuals as compared to 10, 5 percent that was recorded in the previous quarter.”

Owing to economic hardships, young people, including students in universities, have become more exposed to HIV as they engage in transactional sex to compensate for what their guardians cannot provide.

From the report, those aged between 25 to 49 continue to be the worst affected, claiming 33 000 of the recorded infections, followed by those in the 20 to 24 age category who contributed almost 7 500 to the total.

Although the 25-49-year age group recorded a slight decline of one percent, it remains with the highest HIV positivity rate.

Nac highlighted that “the country should continue to strengthen prevention strategies especially in children and adolescents to prevent acquisition of new HIV infections.”

An estimated 1, 3 million people are living with HIV in Zimbabwe.  Government, with the assistance of the international donor community, provides anti-retroviral drugs to 750 000.

The latest World Health Organisation’s guidelines increased the number of people eligible for ARV initiation to 1, 2 million although resources remain a challenge for the cash-strapped government.