(From left) Minister Of State For Provincial Affairs for Mashonaland Central Province Hon Monica Mavhunga, Amai Mnangagwa & Minister of Health & Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo arriving for commemorations

Stakeholders urged to fight HIV stigma

Stakeholders in the HIV sector have been urged to strengthen programmes aimed at addressing stigma and discrimination being faced by people living with  HIV.

Addressing hundreds of people who were gathered at Rujeko High School in Glendale to commemorate  World Aids Day 2018, the first lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa said the National Aids Council and its partners  should strengthen programmes  aimed at changing people’s attitudes  towards people living with HIV.

“These interventions will help as a building block towards everyone  knowing and appreciating their  status,” said Amai Mnangagwa.

She said one of the major drawbacks to the country’s national response to HIV was stigma and discrimination.

Amai Mnangagwa also emphasised the need to promote HIV testing among pregnant women, youths, adolescent girls, young women and key populations such as sex  workers if the country is to achieve the 95:95: 95:95 targets.

She also called upon Government and the private sector to increase domestic funding for HIV.

The  first lady also reiterated the  need to increase the number of people being screened for sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis  and cancer in order to reduce the  mortality rate of these diseases.

“HIV prevention campaigns and screening for cervical and prostate cancers should reach every part of the country to enable everyone to access these essential services” she said.

Speaking at the same occasion the Minister Of Health And Child Care Doctor Obadia Moyo said  Government will continue promoting HIV self testing, HIV index case testing, pre and post-exposure prophylaxis for the entire population and most at risk groups.

Dr Moyo added that the country has adopted an integrated approach that incorporates HIV testing, sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis and cancer screening to ensure that health workers avoid opportunity losses when they come into contact with the people and ensure the well-being of the individual through offering these services.

“As a result of ARVs people living positively are enjoying quality life, but are becoming susceptible to non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart conditions and kidney infections therefore there is need to utilise the decentralized approach to tackle the cancers,”said the health minister.

He also pointed out that the Ministry Of Health And Child Care was committed to ending Aids by 2030.

Dr Moyo said “We shall continue playing our part in improving health systems including advocating for the allocation of foreign currency to procure drugs, which will also be distributed to private pharmacies.

The health minister added that his ministry will always demand that correct scientific procedures be followed in determining the treatment potential and effectiveness of herbal remedies in the management of HIV.

“This is an area where solid evidence is required to ensure that we do not unnecessarily risk the lives of people who are already stable on the antiretroviral therapy,” he said.

Dr Moyo said those who have found HIV treatment should link up with researchers to authenticate their claims, through laid down procedures and examinations, which guarantee protection of people.

This year’s World Aids Day was commemorated under the theme:  Know your status: My status, my health, my life