Director AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB) in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Doctor Owen Mugurungi has expressed shock and disbelief at the statistics which are showing that young people of 20-24 years are leading with new HIV infections in Zimbabwe, 263Chat has been told.
Dr Mugurungi confirmed that two in every five adolescence are carriers of new infections especially those in tertiary institutions.
This was said at the Scientific Symposium hosted by International AIDS Society in the capital today under the theme Translating Science To End HIV in Southern Africa.
Zimbabwe tarted recording HIV cases in the 1980s, fueled bu high risk migrant labour and sex work. In early 90s, infection crossed to low risk. By 1995, infections peaked at incidence of five percent and prevalence was estimated at 28 percent.
There are seven million new infections every year in the southern region and Zimbabwe contributes up to five percent with South Africa leading with the most new infections every year.
Since 2004, the country has experienced steady decline in both incidence & prevalence.
However, men and young people still experience lower level of testing, 42 percent of women aged 15-24 years and only 26 percent of men aged 15-24 years had tested in the last 12 months in Zimbabwe. It is also notable that there are more females living with HIV than males of this age.
“Nearly half of young people (15-24 years) living with HIV in Zimbabwe do not know their status,” said Mugurungi.
The Global Plan spurred remarkable progress, reducing new HIV infections by 60 percent in 21 of the highest burden countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
“In 2015, 110 000 children were newly infected with HIV in these 21 countries, and 150 000 worldwide. Elimination of new HIV infections among children is possible. When children have an HIV-free start, we must support them to stay that way as they enter adolescence and age into adulthood,” said Mugurungi.
“Everyone who is living with HIV should have access to antiretroviral treatment to stay AIDS free and reduce their risk of onward transmission to an uninfected partner,” added Mugurungi.
Children and adolescence are easily left behind and the impact is devastating to the nation.