Monday, January 21, 2008

HIV Testing And Counselling - Govt Ponders Way Forward

AFTER notching up some successes in checking the spread of HIV and AIDS, Zimbabwe still has to ponder its progress in the provision of testing and counselling services.

The country recorded a reduction in adult (15 to 49 years) HIV prevalence rates from a peak of 20.1 percent in 2005 to 15.6 percent in 2007.

But questions still remain over how well the country is doing in terms of providing access to treatment and care.

Owen Mugurungi, head of the government's AIDS and TB unit, says although strides had been made in educating people on the scourge, there was a need for an increase in HIV testing and counselling services.

There are 21 voluntary counselling testing (VCT) centres provided by the Health Ministry and Population Services International Zimbabwe (PSI) through the New Start network, but these fall below the needs of a national response to the scourge.

New Start was the first network to offer HIV testing and counselling services in Zimbabwe in 1999.

The network offers on-site and mobile services covering urban and rural areas throughout the country and an estimated 25 000 clients currently receive HIV counselling and testing through the New Start centres every month.

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