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HIV door-to-door survey surpasses target

by Paidamoyo Chipunza
20 Aug 2016 at 09:34hrs | Views
About 30 000 people were interviewed during the Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (Zimphia), popularly referred to as door-to-door HIV testing. The survey's initial target was 24 400 people. In an interview, Aids and Tuberculosis Unit head in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Owen Mugurungi described the survey as a huge success, which also surpassed its target.

"The response was overwhelming judging by the number of people who took part in the survey versus those that had been targeted," said Dr Mugurungi. He said data collection was completed towards the end of July and enumeration teams have since been disbanded.

He said they were now going through the collected data to assess the results of the HIV burden in the country, as well as that of syphilis, which was also evaluated during the survey. "We now need to find out from the collected data how many tested HIV positive, how many knew their status before the survey and so forth, so that we can safely conclude the burden of HIV in the country," he said.

Dr Mugurungi said the assessment was likely to take up to two months after which a preliminary report would be released. "We look forward to the results before the end of the year so that we know how to programme our activities," said Dr Mugurungi.

The Aids survey was officially launched in September last year and its aim was to ascertain the burden of HIV in the country and, assess the impact of interventions rolled out so far. The survey is the first of its kind to be conducted in Zimbabwe and in the region and was targeting a sample size of 15 000 households randomly selected from all provinces across the country. Previous surveys were based on data collected in health facilities.

Apart from measuring the burden of HIV in the country, Zimphia also availed HIV testing and counselling services, CD4 Count, syphilis testing and referrals to health institutions for further management to all consenting participants.

According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Zimphia is expected to answer questions on the prevalence of HIV in adults and children, prevalence of antiretroviral drug resistance, prevalence of syphilis among adults and coverage of ARVs in the country, findings which will go a long way in informing social services planning in line with Zim-Asset.

According to other studies and yearly national estimates, the HIV burden in Zimbabwe continues to decrease with latest statistics showing a drop in the national HIV incidence rate, new infections and the number of children getting infected through mother-to-child transmission.

The country's prevalence rate, however, remained static at 15 percent while the number of people on anti-retroviral treatment is pegged at 63,4 percent for adults and 55 percent for children. Zimphia, which was conducted by the Biomedical Research and Training Institute in collaboration with Zimstat, National Aids Council, ICAP at Columbia University, US Centre for Disease Control and PEPFAR among others, will also be conducted in 19 other countries. Zimbabwe's experience will be used as a template.