Forex woes hit ARV procurement

Government has made strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS, which has seen the country reducing the HIV prevalence rate from a high of 27 percent in 1997 to the current 13 percent, but resource constraints and foreign currency shortages are now threatening the gains achieved.

The country has made tremendous gains in reducing HIV and AIDS-related deaths over the years through multi-sectoral efforts, but the gains recorded are now under threat.

Some people who were put on antiretroviral treatment (ART) as early as 2003 when the country introduced the AIDS Trust Fund and have been compliant ever since, are now living in fear.

An estimated 1.3 million Zimbabweans are living with HIV, and ten percent of that population is said to have become resistant to currently available antiretroviral drugs (ARVs).

The National AIDS Council is failing to access adequate foreign currency allocation from the central bank as it is competing with other priority national requirements.

Medical experts say people can become drug resistant after defaulting treatment or via direct infection of a drug resistant strain of the virus.

It is actually better to keep people on the first line treatment regimen as the second line treatment costs 24 percent more than the first line.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care announced that it will be introducing Dolutegravir (DTG)-based treatment regimens this year to the already existing basket of first and second-line treatment options.

Observers say it is imperative for the government to secure ARVs for the realisation of the 90-90-90 objectives, that is to initiate 90 percent of diagnosed patients and obtain viral suppression in 90 percent of those on ART.

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