The Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Daivid Parirenyatwa has launched the inaugural Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Strategy for the period 2018-2020 in Epworth today in an effort to prevent HIV, a virus that has costed Zimbabwe over US$200 million annually through importing medication, from speading.
PrEP, is a way for people who do not have HIV but who are at substantial risk of getting it to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day according to the Centre for Disease and Prevention Control.
Zimbabwe has been using different methods in fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS, a disease that has killed 30 thousand people according to statistics.
“This is an add-on to our bag of tools and approaches for HIV prevention that we had in the past and I am confident you all know that I have always said that the best strategy in our efforts to fight AIDS in this country is Prevention, Prevention and Prevention,” Parirenyatwa said.
“In this same light, my Ministry has delightedly intensified this approach and hence this day we have tomorrow.”
Minister of Harare Metropolitan Province, Miriam Chikukwa, who also attended the launch said she feels very excited about the prospects of getting to zero new HIV infections through a combination of HIV prevention strategies.
“It is our hope and vision that our concerted efforts will help us reach our goal of ending AIDSA by 2030,” said Chikukwa.
“It is indeed quite a delight that we have innovative interventions such as VMMC (Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision) which helps to reduce chances of one contracting HIV by 60% and also PrEP where just one pill a day can help to reduce HIV by 90% if used correctly.”
In 2016, the United Nations set goals, targets and commitments to accelerate efforts towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
Deputy Director for HIV/AIDS and STIs in Zimbabwe, who was also on the launch Dr Tsitsi Apollo said that her hope is that the strategy PrEP will be available in all the districts of the the country.
“Currently we have 3 253 people on PrEP, teh majority 54% being female Sex workers, 21% in sero-discordant relationships and other 19% (other represents those in relationship or married),” Apollo said. “We need to do more to reach out to various groups of key populations.”