CURRENT economic challenges are threatening the management of sexually transmitted infections in Zimbabwe, National Aids Council Mashonaland East Provincial Manager, Dr Wifred Dube has said.
Speaking to journalists in Macheke, a farming settlement about 105 kilometres south-east of the capital Harare on Tuesday, Dr Dube said Mashonaland East Province was grappling with Sexually Transmitted Infections, STIs, but rural clinics do not have enough drugs for treatment.
“The quality of treatment in rural clinics is compromised due to shortage of drugs. Most of the time when people go for treatment at clinics, they will only get one drug out of the required combinations.
Dr Dube noted that the province, because of this challenge, continues to record a higher number of repeat STI cases.
He said the province has also strengthened HIV prevention programmes in farming communities where HIV cases are high.
“Research has shown us that positivity rate is higher in farming communities, hence our strengthening of HIV prevention programmes in such communities.”
Mashonaland East province has expanded moonlight HIV testing and counselling services through the use of mobile night clinics to get communities tested for HIV.
“We have communities such as sex workers, truck drivers and even some men who do not want to be seen at clinics during the day.
“Such communities are the reason why we came up with the moonlight testing concept. We usually set up the mobile clinics at shopping centers and these have had a good uptake as the clients enjoy the cover of darkness to get services.
“Clients also find the services convenient as this saves time of going to normal clinics. “We need more people to get tested so that we can have 90 percent of the population knowing their status by 2020.”
Zimbabwe adopted the United Nations’ 90-90-90 targets to help end Aids as a public health threat by 2020.
The 90-90-90 targets call on countries to ensure that by 2020 at least 90 percent of all people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90 percent of all people who are living with HIV and know their status are put on treatment, and 90 percent of people on treatment have the virus in their bodies suppressed.