The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe, has officially opened the second HIV and AIDS conference with a call that men should be involved in all programmes that mitigate the pandemic.
He said, â€œThe role of men in society is unquestionable. It is for this reason that men should take their place in the HIV response, both for their own health as well as in support of women and children.
â€œSadly, few men access services on time as evidenced by our treatment figures which show that fewer men are on treatment compared to women.â€President Mugabe highlighted that the rate of men getting tested for HIV is decreasing.
He said mother-to-child transmission of HIV is a global injustice which can be eliminated especially now that advances have been made in terms of prevention.
Said the President, â€œEvidence coming from the developed countries shows that new cases of HIV infections in children have been virtually eliminated to rates which are lower than two per cent.
â€œSuch low rates of mother-to-child transmission are also possible in developing countries and have been reported by other neighbouring countries such as Botswana, giving us hope that as Zimbabwe, we can also attain this milestone.â€
The President said the large numbers of children living with HIV should be a reminder that there is need for intensified and effective measures that will propel the nation towards an HIV-free generation.
He encouraged all couples to have children after they know their HIV status.
President Mugabe said the decrease in HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe is proof of governmentâ€™s commitment which aims to eliminate the pandemic.
â€œSuch remarkable declines in prevalence bear testimony to the high level commitment and leadership by government which is strengthened by a successful multi-stakeholder involvement in the countryâ€™s fight against the epidemic,â€ the President said.
Over one million Zimbabweans are HIV positive with only 360 000 on treatment and 23 000 of them are children.
The conference ends on Thursday and is running under theme â€˜elimination of new HIV infections in children and keeping mothers alive.â€™