UN Applauds Zimbabwe’s Efforts in Combating HIV, Calls on Donors to Stay the Course

Harare, 30 November 2015 - Describing the hosting of the 18th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) in Zimbabwe as historic, the UN in Zimbabwe has commended Zimbabwe for the progress made to the HIV response saving thousands of lives. The conference is taking place in Harare from 29 November-4 December, 2015.

Hailing Zimbabwe as a great success story, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Bishow Parajuli said: “The UN is pleased to be represented in this event that provides a golden opportunity to showcase Zimbabwe’s robust national response to challenges posed by HIV, and the value of effective international partnerships and cooperation that are the hallmark of the country’s shining example” explained Mr. Parajuli.

“We urge the international community to stay the course in supporting Zimbabwe to consolidate the phenomenal gains made in the last decade and achieve its goals under the National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan and other priorities” he added.

With the UN’s support as well as other development partners such as the Global Fund, PEPFAR and DFID, Zimbabwe has made major progress in combating HIV.  The number of HIV-positive people on antiretroviral therapy (ART) rose from 508,690 in 2012 to 854,181 by September 2015.

Significant strides have also been realized under the Prevention of Mother-to-Child-Transmission (PMTCT) programme. The percentage of HIV-positive pregnant women who received anti-retroviral treatment to reduce the risk of mother-to-child-transmission has increased from 85.4% in 2010 to 89% in 2014, according to the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s 2014 PMTCT annual report.

“ICASA comes at the crucial time for Africa to review the progress made against the Millennium Development Goals and to commit to Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its target of ending the epidemic of AIDS. Zimbabwe has made outstanding progress in scaling up antiretroviral treatment. The Government's commitment to leaving no one behind will be vital in ensuring that services reach all those key populations most affected by AIDS in Zimbabwe” remarked Michael Bartos, UNAIDS Country Director in Zimbabwe

“It is absolutely critical that as we move forward, we take a hard and honest look at why key segments of the population are not being reached by the current HIV and AIDS response in Zimbabwe,” said UNICEF Representative Reza Hossaini. “By September this year, one-third of adolescents aged between 15-19 years living with HIV were not on anti-retroviral treatment, and this figure could be higher if more were tested. Even more troubling, new HIV infections among adolescents have not declined as fast as among adults, and 57 % of children were not on treatment. Preventing new infections among adolescents and broadening access to treatment for those with HIV is the new frontier in ending AIDS by 2030.”

UNFPA Country Representative Cheikh Tidiane Cisse stressed the need for more focus on HIV prevention especially among young people, and on family planning for women living with HIV, saying this would lead to fewer HIV-positive infants. “HIV control and management continues to be a central plank of global strategies to improve women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health,” he said, adding “together we can invest more in integrating HIV and sexual and reproductive health services.”

The International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) is a major international AIDS conference which takes place in Africa. The biennial International conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as leaders, people living with HIV and others committed to ending the epidemic.