Bulawayo hit by serious ARV shortage

Acting Bulawayo City Council Health Services Director, Dr Gladys Marape responding to questions sent to him by Radio VOP said the ARV waiting list of HIV infected people had shot to 24 000, further piling pressure on council clinics and government hospitals that face shortages of ARV drugs.

“The waiting list for patients who require ARV’s currently stands at 24 000. Out of 46 000 HIV infected people in Bulawayo, only 22 000 are receiving the drugs,” Dr Marape said in her emailed response to Radio VOP.

“Some 17 000 patients are receiving drugs at council clinics while 7000 are receiving the drugs at government hospitals, bringing the number of patients receiving the ARV treatment to 22 000.”

Marape said because of the long-waiting list, some people, especially those who get tested when they were very ill were dying before they could access the vital drugs while others were getting treatment when it was too late to save them.

The Acting Health services Director said in some cases people living with HIV were being urged to go to their rural areas where they could access ARVs easily since there were fewer people on the waiting lists in rural health centres.

Zimbabwe has a multi-sector response to HIV/AIDS coordinated by the National Aids Council.

The southern African nation is one of the few countries to continue to register a marginal decline of new HIV infections with latest statistics showing that the percentage of people infected with the AIDS virus dropped from 16% in 2007 to 13% last year.

Recently, the country opened male circumcision clinics in a bid to reduce the spread of HIV infections. Studies have shown that circumcision reduces the spread of the virus by up to 60 percent.

Other than reducing chances of men becoming infected with HIV during heterosexual intercourse by 60 percent, circumcision also offers partial protection against sexually transmitted diseases.