By Nevson Mpofu
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EMBASSY CHARGE d’ Affairs Jennifer Savage has made the end to HIV and AIDS be close to its final stage. Zimbabwe is currently getting reached every of its corner by PEPFAR‘s HIV and AIDS Programs.
People, countries and organizations preach in the word is to end the spread of HIV which progresses to AIDS. Through the AIDS and ARTS initiative, the great first of its kind, USA is behind HIV and AIDS Programs in the country. Jennifer delivered her words in aftermath of the program on HIV and AIDS currently in Mashonaland central, in Mazoe area, Mvurwi and Glendale.
In the part of the province ARTS ENTERTAINERS Albert Nyathi and Derreck Mpofu were engaged by the organization to spread the word of the spread of the epidemic HIV and AIDS through ARTS performance in the communities. The track of education and entertainment is ranging from taking community people especially school children on question and answer giving session, quiz, dance, poetry and music. Prices won are in form of books, CDs, stationery and t-shirts.
Contacted for an Interview, Jennifer said USA is working on this project to end the epidemic of HIV and AIDS. She pointed out that though there are challenges, gaps left and more communities to be reached, the Embassy of US has gone far in these programs.
‘’We are not only in Zimbabwe , but in many countries .We need to move forward and cover marginalized deep hidden under resourced communities . The idea of ARTS as a message is to keep audience who then turn to take effort to test.
‘’A big number has tested. It means we are moving on as a country but still we need to kick off with other programs to eliminate HIV by 2030 according to targets set. We are closing the net of AIDS like as you see and know there are few cases of AIDS than HIV.
‘’HIV and AIDS before the advent access to treatment was more in Africa and some parts. However the prevalence and Incidence rate is now low ever than before. NEW HIV infections have gone low due to a number of programs and interventions.
PEPFAR early this year took to the streets offering free HIV testing and counseling. One such event was attended by a round of thousands of Harare residents who got free services along First Street. Adding to Adesanyu Fanmi who works for PEPFAR said the Free HIV and AIDS program was not only for cities and towns but also for rural areas, farming and mining communities.
‘’We target the whole country as PEPFAR. The fact that this is free, many people attend for the services because they might be impacted by no access to services due to lack of enough money for such services.
‘’Everywhere, we talk of Ending HIV with the need to reach everyone. This program will reach many communities in the country. The target is for 2030 to end the epidemic not in Zimbabwe alone but throughout the World .Even around the World, the epidemic is going down’’, she said
AIDS and ARTS Foundation Director Emmanuel Gasa said ARTS in Zimbabwe could be a solution because it is fast reachable in its amplified voices. Apart from that he pointed out that ARTS is performed by many people.
‘’ARTS linked to AIDS can be the answer in Zimbabwe because the voice is widely taken in communities, schools and colleges. Young people must be the big target for AIDS to get down .Young people are the leaders tomorrow so they need to be reached in big number in the country , ‘’
Derreck Mpofu who sided with the idea of reaching the young generation said young generations cherish celebrities. Apart from this they is need for conservations which young people favor.
‘’This will reach millions if not more because young people are close to works of celebrities. If it is through like the likes of music of these young urban grooves we reach all
‘’ARTS are audio-visual .This takes hearts of the young generation in the country. At the same time let us do discussions with themes affecting the young generations like on issues here with us , HIV and AIDS impact , ‘’
‘’Albert Nyathi said there is need for Artists to come with Art delivery with touch of the people. Themes must centered on ending problems affecting them every day .At the helm of discussions if they are there must be between the young people and the older generations with examples of life experiences of the older people through their way to the impact of HIV and AIDS, said Albert Nyathi .
Many programs on the theme of HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe have been with special focus on the young people. Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision has reached close to 300,000. Close to 2,5 million people received HIV testing and counseling services free of charge .
PEPFAR [PRESIDEN’S EMERGENCY PLAN FOR AIDS RELIEF] has reached 880 adults and children the past months with free Anti-Retroviral through- out the country. The International Organization availed US 150 million dollars in response to HIV at national level. The commitment is towards achieving the 95, 95, 95 targets by 2030.
The targets are bent towards making people get tested, know their status and be in a position to eliminate HIV which when not managed well progresses to AIDS . There have several changes in the last 15 years in the spread of HIV . Death rate has gone down and life expectance is now above 50 years .
Zimbabwe as a country has come out with policies , strategies through National AIDS Council . The country working with PEPFAR worked to reduce the spread by making communities reachable with Anti-Retrovirals . PEPFAR by end of this year is expected to reach a million people by end of 2020.