Provider-Initiated HIV Testing Programs in Zimbabwe Increasing Number of Pregnant Women Seeking Testing, Counseling, Health Minister Says
An increasing number of women in Zimbabwe are receiving HIV tests and counseling as a result of the country's provider-initiated testing and counseling programs, Minister of Health and Child Welfare David Parirenyatwa said recently, The Herald reports.
About 541,000 pregnant women as of September 2007 have received HIV counseling through the country's Prevention of Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission program, Parirenyatwa said, adding that more than 432,000 of the women were screened for HIV. He said that nearly 38,000 women and their infants received nevirapine prophylaxis as a result of the provider-initiated approach. According to Parirenyatwa, the national PMTCT program, which started as a pilot project in 1999, has expanded to reach all the 1,560 public health facilities that offer prenatal care in the country. Health practitioners offer HIV testing to pregnant women, but the women have the right to opt out of testing.
"We must applaud the service providers for contributing significantly to this important milestone," he said. Parirenyatwa also called on health officials to encourage families to learn about the PMTCT program. "We should commit ourselves to the success of the program to enable people to know their status in order to take appropriate and positive action to relieve the pain and suffering that comes with" HIV/AIDS, Parirenyatwa said. He added that collaboration from several groups has helped make positive achievements and improvements in the services offered by the programs (The Herald, 1/18).