The Sunday Mail
By Tadiwa Nyatanga-Pfupa
National & Provincial WAD Preparations Committee Members Touring The Venue
Preparations for this year’s World AIDS Day (WAD) commemorations are at an advanced stage with the organizers of the event, the National Aids Council (NAC) confident of hosting a successful event.
The event will be held on Saturday 1 December 2018 at Rujeko Secondary School in Glendale, Mazowe district of Mashonaland Central. The district has specifically been chosen as a venue for the commemorations because it has a high HIV prevalence of 18,6 percent, higher than the prevalence rate for Zimbabwe as a whole which currently stands at 14 percent.
The theme for 2018 is: Know your status. The theme comes against a background of HIV infections that continue to be recorded. Apart from encouraging people to just know their HIV status, this year’s theme has been broadened to call on everyone to get screened for other conditions such as Tuberclosis (TB), Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and other non-communicable diseases, chief among them, cancer. Those who are HIV positive need to know their CD4 count as well as their viral load. Knowing these will lead to Zimbabwe achieving the 90 by 90 by 90 targets by 2020 and ultimately end AIDS by 2030. The 90 by 90 by 90 targets state that 90 percent of all people who are HIV positive must know their status, 90 percent of all those that are HIV positive must be on treatment and 90 percent of those that are on treatment must have their viral load suppressed.
NAC and all their partners in the response to HIV continue to call for strengthening of HIV prevention strategies which include HIV Testing and Counselling, Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision, Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission, HIV treatment, zero discrimination, no gender based violence, condom use, among others.
The whole of Africa, Zimbabwe as a country and National AIDS Council (NAC) as the co-ordinator of the national response are working flat out to revitalise HIV prevention so as to end AIDS by 2030.
Stakeholders and implementing partners are ready to exhibit the programmes and services they are offering in the national response to HIV and AIDS on the sidelines of the commemorations.
A march during the 2017 WAD commemorations in Bulawayo
Ms Evelyn Chamisa, a member of the organising committee at national level is confident that this year’s commemorations will be counted amongst the country’s if not the region’s best WAD events. “This year we have a team of vibrant committee members at both national and provincial levels. Past experiences have taught us what to stick to and what not to repeat. Our commemorations have been getting better every year and this year we are promising Zimbabwe an event that is seamless in terms of planned activities and enriching with regards to information on HIV and related conditions,” she said. Mrs Moren Masanzu of Glendale, a planning committee member at provincial level said that it is an honour for residents of Glendale to be hosting such a prestigious national event. “The people of Glendale are looking forward to the World AIDS Day commemorations. I am happy with this year’s theme which makes it clear that people should never be scared to know their status, she said. She went on to say that, “people should know their status so that they are in a position to curb the transmission of new infections. The evil of late detection is that people die.”
Mashonaland Central has an estimated 99 000 people living with HIV and about 2 940 new HIV infections per year.
Hosting of the event in the country’s 10 provinces is held on a rotational basis. Bulawayo province hosted the 2017 commemorations and for 2016 the venue was Kwekwe in the Midlands province.
Mashonaland Central last hosted the event ten years ago.
The Candlelight Memorial as well as HIV prevention awareness campaigns are some of the activities that will be held ahead of the World AIDS Day 2018.