Zimbabwe has recorded a significant improvement in the number of children under the age of 16 who are now accessing anti-retroviral drugs.According to the third quarter report released by the National Aids Council, by the end of September 2011, 39 036 children from across the country had been initiated on anti-retroviral therapy up from 32 976 children who were getting such medication between January to March last year.
National Aids Council Communications Officer, Mr. Orirando Manuwere, attributed the increased uptake of paediatric ARVs to improved advocacy particularly by support groups.
He said HIV positive parents are targeting fellow parents and guardians and encouraging them to have their children tested.
So far six support groups across the country have recorded significant increases in the number of children that have been initiated
Mr Manuwere said the support groups that have recorded significant increases include Simbarashe network for people living with HIVs in Mhondoro-Ngezi, Seke Rural Support Group, Kubatana Support group which is getting ARVs from Mt St Marys Hospital in Wedza, Karanda Mission Hospital Paediatric Unit, Blessed Support Group in Chipinge and Chimhanda Support Group in Rushinga.
The uptake of paediatric ARVs has been very slow in the country due to the policy that does not allow children under the age of 16 to get tested or collect ARVs unaccompanied by parents or guardians.