Zimbabwe To Increase Number of People Receiving No-Cost Antiretrovirals, Official Says
The Zimbabwean government recently announced plans to increase the number of HIV-positive people who receive no-cost antiretroviral drugs, IRIN/PlusNews reports. Dwen Mugurungi, national coordinator of Zimbabwe's HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis program, said that the government hopes to enroll about 160,000 people in its antiretroviral program by the end of this year. Currently, 50,000 out of an estimated 500,000 HIV-positive people in the country who need antiretroviral drugs are receiving them through the government. Oumisani Nkomo, deputy chair of the Zimbabwe National Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS, said, "It is a welcome development to hear government make such a pledge, but it would appear just too ambitious to me. What they need to do is to go an extra mile, way beyond simple pledges and promises, and harness resources that would promote free or affordable distribution" of antiretrovirals. Zimbabwe's 18% HIV prevalence rate is among the highest in the world, according to official statistics. The government in 2003 began treating people at opportunistic infection clinics, but the clinics are located in urban areas, which make treatment difficult for HIV-positive people who live in rural areas (IRIN/PlusNews, 1/11).
Grant To Promote Female Condom Use, Reduction in Sex Partners
The government of Zimbabwe this week received a three-year $7.3 million grant from the European Union and U.N. Population Fund to promote the use of female condoms and increase awareness about the dangers of having multiple sex partners, VOA News reports. According to VOA News, a recent study found that programs aimed at reducing the number of sex partners and increasing in part led to a decrease in HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe from 25% to 18% (Zulu , VOA News, 1/11).
VOA News on Friday interviewed Chitiga Mbanje, information coordinator for the Center, a non-governmental organization that provides HIV/AIDS counseling, training and home-based care (Zulu  VOA News, 1/11). Audio of the segment is available online in RealPlayer.