Despite the declining rate of HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe, the country still needs to expand on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission while increasing the number of facilities that provide HIV testing and counselling from the current 74% national coverage.This was said by Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe in his message on the eve of World AIDS Day which is being marked this Thursday.
This yearâ€™s commemorations mark the 23rd anniversary of World AIDS Day.
It is being held under the theme â€œGetting to Zero â€œ, in which the country is aiming at achieving zero new infections, zero HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination and thirldy, zero AIDSâ€“related deaths.
In his message , President Mugabe said one of the ways of achieving the zero stigma, zero new infections, and zero AIDS â€“related deaths is by ensuring that people have universal access to HIV and AIDS services.
The President said the time has come for zero new HIV infections and that the country has already laid the solid foundation of both human and material infrastructure through which the country achieved world acclaim for a declining HIV prevalence rate which is stabilising at 13%.
He noted that Zimbabwe has a range of HIV prevention programmes which over the years have served as examples to other nations.
President Mugabe commended the Ministry of Heath and Child Welfare, the National AIDS Council (NAC) and other partners for running the door-to-door testing campaign in the provinces and encouraged Zimbabweans to get tested and to scale-up condom use, male circumcision and the encouragement of abstinence.
In response to the disturbing evidence that more infections are occurring in stable long-term companionships, Cde Mugabe challenged the NAC and its cooperating partners to find new ways of reaching out to people in such circumstances with targeted HIV prevention measures.
The President also said there is absolutely no reason for any child to carry the virus when transmission from mother-to-child can be prevented.
He paid tribute to the National Aids Trust Fund, through which Zimbabwe is now supporting 35% of people on the National Anti-retroviral Treatment Programme.
The World AIDS Day is also a day to remember loved ones who succumbed to the pandemic.