At least 137 554 people, including 6 873 children, living with HIV in Mashonaland East province were initiated on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) as of June this year.
An estimated 188 254 people in the province are reportedly living with HIV. This came out at a National AIDS Council (NAC) stakeholders' meeting to update on activities carried out during the second quarter of the year.
Goromonzi District Aids Coordinator Mr Graham Mafoko presented the provincial position on treatment, care and support.
"The call for universal access to treatment is bearing fruits as those tested and found positive were initiated on ART," said Mr Mafoko. "By the end of the second quarter of this year, 137 554 people were initiated in Mashonaland East province. Different services, which are being offered in the districts, are contributing very much to the initiation of patients on ART.
"Awareness on ART has increased to the extent that adherence is high among people living with HIV, but some of the activities were adversely affected by Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown. We also had some people failing to access drugs owing to the travel restrictions, as well as high transport costs."
HIV/AIDS treatment, including the treatment of opportunistic infections and ART, is coordinated by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
The programmes under this thematic area are ART, Home Based Care (HBC), HIV and TB collaboration and the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) programme.
The overall goal of the ART programme is to reduce HIV-related morbidity and mortality, improve the chances of survival and quality of life for persons living with HIV and AIDS and reduce the transmission of HIV from infected to uninfected individuals through expanded ART coverage and early initiation.
Mr Mafoko recommended that Government, through the Ministry of Health and Child Care, should ensure the availability of medicine, as well as viral load machines at health centres.
Mashonaland East has an HIV prevalence rate of 14,1 percent.