GALZ joins the rest of the world in commemorating World AIDS day in 2017 with the theme “Closing the Tap of New HIV infections.” Progress has been made in the fight against HIV/Aids in Zimbabwe from a prevalence rate of 32.1% in the year 2000 to about 15% today. GALZ wants to applaud the efforts of the Ministry of Health and Child Care, National AIDS Council, AIDS Service Organizations, Civil Society and other relevant stakeholders in their joint and complementary efforts in ending HIV.
In line with the theme “Closing the Tap of New infections,” GALZ notes that there are other minorities that are being left out from adequate and relevant treatment services thereby making the goal of closing the tap of new infections hard to reach. Sexual minorities such as lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender, intersex and other men who sex with men and women who sex with women are more vulnerable to HIV owing to limited access to relevant services targeted specifically at them. There is need for targeted HIV prevention programmes to be implemented with the engagement and participation of the LGBTI community so that they are more effective and ownership is promoted.
Innovative programmes should be put in place to reach the LGBTI community with proper information on preventive and protective methods and support services. Peer-to-peer approaches may yield better results since not many people are comfortable talking about sex and sexuality issues in public fora.
In line with reducing new infections, GALZ calls upon the Ministry of Health and Child Care, National AIDS Council, AIDS Service Organizations and all relevant stakeholders to promote calls towards offering comprehensive sexuality education and training and ensure that the health system addresses negative structural factors that prevent the disclosure of sexual orientation as well as maintaining confidentiality after disclosure of sexual orientation especially after treatment for STIs.
HIV surveillance systems in Zimbabwe should not ignore MSM and WSW communities and the use of evidence specific for the community should be considered in designing appropriate HIV prevention programs and services. We are all important and equal in closing the tap of new HIV infections.