Momentum for Elimination of Pediatric HIV/AIDS Builds in Zimbabwe

April 12, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Caroline Zinyemba, czinyemba@pedaids.org

April 12, 2011, HARARE, Zimbabwe – Following the January launch of the national agenda to Eliminate Pediatric HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe, the government of Zimbabwe continues to gather momentum toward creating a generation free of HIV. One example of this momentum is the delivery of the first batch of 200 Point of Care CD4 machines by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), as it supports the roll-out of the national programme to eliminate pediatric HIV and AIDS.

CD4 machines measure the strength of a person’s immune system and are critical to determine when people living with HIV should begin antiretroviral therapy, particularly pregnant HIV-positive women. Until recently, CD4 machines were only available in a few laboratories in Zimbabwe, and required a qualified laboratory scientist to run the tests.  Because of the limited number of machines and qualified staff available in the health system, clients requiring CD4 tests experienced long waiting periods.

However, the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare (MoHCW) has since adopted the use of Point of Care CD4 technology to increase access to CD4 diagnostic services.  This technology produces results in the same way as the conventional CD4 instruments already in use in the country, but the Point of Care CD4 machines are much simpler to use, so that non-scientists can also easily operate the equipment.
“The delivery of these machines to local clinics and health facilities throughout the country will significantly increase access to CD4 testing, particularly for pregnant women living in more rural areas,” says Dr. Agnes Mahomva, Country Director for EGPAF in Zimbabwe. “We are honored to partner with the government of Zimbabwe for this project, which will also allow women greater access to antiretroviral therapy that could help them to have HIV-free babies.”

The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation has been awarded the first year of a five-year $45-million grant to fight HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). The grant will be used to accelerate the scale-up of more effective antiretroviral regimens to reduce HIV transmission from mother- to-child, and to ensure that HIV-positive mothers can access treatment for their own health.

The strengthened partnership between EGPAF and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare will help ensure that the lessons learned from Zimbabwe will be used to implement similar programs in other high HIV-burden countries, and to strengthen efforts to eliminate pediatric HIV and AIDS globally.

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About the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation:
The Foundation is a global leader in the fight against pediatric HIV and AIDS, and has reached more than 11 million women with services to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies. It works at more than 5,000 sites in 17 countries to implement prevention, care, and treatment services; to further advance innovative research; and to execute strategic and targeted global advocacy activities in order to bring dramatic change to the lives of millions of women, children, and families worldwide.