Zimbabwe in Line To Reach Antiretroviral Treatment Target, Health Official Says
Zimbabwe could meet its target of providing 140,000 HIV-positive people with access to no-cost antiretroviral drugs by the end of the year, Owen Mugurungi, head of the Zimbabwean government's HIV/AIDS unit, said on Tuesday at a two-day workshop on drug access issues in the country, the Herald/AllAfrica.com reports (Herald/AllAfrica.com, 10/26).
The country's efforts to increase access to antiretrovirals have been delayed by a shortage of foreign currency, which has increased poverty levels and raised inflation by 3,700%. More than 3,000 people die of AIDS-related illnesses weekly in the country, and 70% of hospital admissions in Zimbabwe are HIV/AIDS-related. According to Zimbabwe Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa, at least 300,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country are in need of antiretrovirals (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/12). According to Mugurungi, about 90,000 HIV-positive people have access to no-cost antiretrovirals under the government's treatment program.
"More than 80% of our target population" already has antiretroviral access, and if the country doubles its "efforts in the next two months, that means [Zimbabwe] might surpass" the 140,000 target, Mugurungi said. The country is among other African nations that believe a 100% universal access to antiretrovirals is unrealistic, Mugurungi said, adding that Zimbabwe instead aims to provide 75% of HIV-positive people with treatment access. Raymond Yekeye, operations director for the National AIDS Council, agreed and said that Zimbabwe now is looking to fulfill district-level treatment targets (Herald/AllAfrica.com, 10/26).