The first case of HIV was discovered by scientists in June 1981, since then the epidemic has continued to grow. With it’s growth we have seen a numerous amount of deaths, but there have also been strives. Partners in Zimbabwe wrote an article about the HIV epidemic specifically related to Zimbabwe after the UN council meeting in New York. The article discusses Zimbabwe’s challenges, achievements, and opportunities.
Looking at the challenges Zimbabwe faces:
In the world Zimbabwe still has one of the highest HIV infection among all the countries. “It carries the third largest HIV burden in Southern Africa and has one of the highest rates of premature adult mortality, largely due to HIV-related illnesses.”
The second most significant source of new infections is mother to child transmission. “Approximately 1 in 3 infants born to HIV infected mothers are HIV infected.”
AIDS still remains a leading cause for death in Zimbabwe. “It is estimated that in 2010 alone 59,318 adults and 11,981 children died of HIV-related illnesses.” The other tragedy is that, “AIDS related deaths have left in their wake large numbers of orphans and vulnerable children: it is estimated that 25% of all children in Zimbabwe have lost to AIDS one or both parents.” However Zimbabwe is committed to achieving the goal of zero new infections.
“Latest estimates place the 2010 adult HIV prevalence at 13.13%, which brings the estimated number of people living with HIV to about 1.2 million, including 145,225 children under 15.”
Looking at Zimbabwe’s achievements:
Even though there are 1.2 million people living with HIV the percentage of new cases every year continues to decline. “The first cases of AIDS in Zimbabwe were reported in 1985. For the next decade, HIV prevalence continued to rise and peaked at 29% in 1997. HIV prevalence has fallen significantly since the late 90s, down to 16.06% in 2007 and further down to 14.26% in 2009.”
Zimbabwe has also done with with making the antiretroviral treatment more accessible to the people. “By the end of 2010, a total of 314,927 adults (60% female) with advanced HIV infection were on ART representing coverage of 54% based on the revised (2010) WHO guidelines, up from just 8.3% in 2005. A sizeable number of children were initiated on ART: 32,430 children were receiving ART by the end of 2010, which constituted about 37% of the total number of children in need of ART, which was estimated at 89,490. It is estimated that annual AIDS-related deaths decreased from 123,000 in 2006 to 84,000 at the end of 2009.”
Looking at the future:
Through all of these messages coming from different sources we all must stay positive and continue to look for the light at the end of the tunnel. It is troubling to see how many people are living with HIV, but it is inspiring to see how the number of new infections in decreasing.
It was interesting for me to see how many mothers pass on the condition to their children. Through seeing how many new children are infected I believe that it is more important now than ever for Tariro and organizations like it to continue sponsoring young girls and keeping them in school. Stopping the spread of HIV to these girls will not just stop with them, but if they succeed because having the ability to go to school they won’t be a part of the statistic of mothers that spread HIV to their children. The cure will not just come from an immediate solution, but a long term one in which we break the cycle of girls receiving the condition and spreading it on to their kids.