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Aids Service Organisations condemn demolitions

AIDS Service Organisations (ASOs) have condemned the government over the destruction of illegal structures without an alternative plan, saying the move would force People Living with HIV and Aids (PLHIV) to default on treatment.

BY PHYLLIS MBANJE

Aids and Arts Foundation (Taaf) director, Emmanuel Gasa said while they were not totally against the exercise, they were concerned about the lack of a backup plan, especially for vulnerable groups like PLHIV.

He feared that many would default on treatment after being displaced.

“Can the government first conduct a survey and have a plan to ensure the continuity of HIV care for such people before taking action. There is a greater humanitarian crisis here,” he said.

Gasa said Operation Murambatsvina (Drive out the Filth) of 2005 saw most of their clients defaulting on treatment, resulting in many developing resistance to their line of drugs.

“We lost many friends during a similar exercise and so we are imploring the authorities to take into consideration such issues like treatment for our clients and prioritise them,” said Gasa.

Over 700 000 people were affected by the operation. Many have still not recovered from the operation which received worldwide criticism.

Demolitions have already started in Damofalls in Ruwa. The government said it would soon roll out the operation to all areas in Harare and possibly maybe the whole of Zimbabwe, such as the the one in 2005.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe National Network of People living with HIV (ZNNP+) has said that the scaling up of HIV treatment and prevention, is under threat from funding shortfalls.

It urged the government to aggressively source the resources so that people access the services.

In a statement ZNNP+ lamented lack of community involvement and chronic drug stock outs at a time when new evidence has noted that early treatment reduces HIV transmission by 96%.

Currently, the new World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines allow people with a CD4 count of 500 or more to access treatment.

This new requirement however, has put a strain on Zimbabwe as it still has a long list of people waiting to be put on treatment.

“Government and donors should scale up funding to ensure access to treatment for all people living with HIV at CD4<500,” read part of the statement. Irene Zivire, a representative of Life Empowerment Support Organisation Care Trust said the government and donors must change national eligibility criteria to reflect the new scientific evidence, “and must end stock outs of life saving medicines”.

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