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Door To Door HIV Testing Begins

THE Zimbabwe Population based HIV Impact Assessment (Zimphia) was yesterday launched in Bulawayo province with 1,288 adults and children expected to be tested for HIV during the door to door survey.

The data collection exercise will also see participants being tested for syphilis, HIV viral load and CD4 counts in the comfort of their homes.

The survey, which is targeting 30,000 adults countrywide and children by April this year, will be taken to 30 households in the city.

The 30 households were selected during the 2002 national census conducted by the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency.
Door To Door HIV Testing Begins
Officially launching the programme in the city yesterday, the guest of honour at the event, Minister of State for Bulawayo Province Cde Eunice Sandi Moyo, said it was important for the country to find ways of tackling HIV.

In a speech read on her behalf by her personal assistant, Fikile Marovatsanga, the Minister said Zimphia would help the country in policy formulation.

“We’re very excited about Zimphia as its results will offer us a platform as policy makers to better understand the relative impact of HIV at population level and additionally provides participants with an opportunity to know their HIV status,” said Minister Moyo.

She said Zimbabwe was proud to be among the first of 20 countries that will implement this new type of strategic information generating survey.

“Being the first always has its own challenges but I’m confident that our country will acquit itself well as we’re known for our leadership in various facets of HIV and Aids response, including domestic,” said Minister Moyo.

Speaking at the same occasion, Bulawayo Health services deputy director Dr Edwin Sibanda said the assessment is targeting people of all ages regardless of their HIV status.

“Before the interview begins, we’ll describe the survey activities to you and ask you to provide informed consent showing that you’re volunteering to be in the survey. Before survey teams collect information, consent (permission) will be obtained from participants aged 16 years and above,” said Dr Sibanda.

“For participants aged seven to 15 years, parents will be asked to provide permission for us to talk to their children.”

Dr Sibanda said the Zimphia survey would also offer syphilis testing for those aged 15 years and above.

He said syphilis tests take about 20 minutes to conduct with immediate results

“Zimphia will also give participants the opportunity to get free and voluntary HIV testing and counselling in the privacy and comfort of their own homes. It’ll also help us know how many people in Zimbabwe are living with HIV and need health services,” said Dr Sibanda.

He said the survey targets people who are unaware of their HIV status and those with suppressed HIV load, among others.

Dr Sibanda said participants were not tested as a family but individually and it is up to an individual to choose whether they want to disclose their status or not.

“This won’t be a force matter, people have to consent. Our qualified personnel will take each individual family member for counselling and testing, it’s not done wholesomely as a family.

“After testing, it’s up to an individual to choose whether they want to disclose their status or not so we respect people’s privacy,” said Dr Sibanda.

Zimphia’s Dr Godfrey Musuka said they had roped in qualified nurses and laboratory scientists to conduct the survey.

He said 111 nurses and 15 medical laboratory scientists had trained as trainers in HIV rapid testing, PIMA CD4 count, syphilis testing and phlebotomy.

“170 interviewers, nurses and lab scientists trained in conducting the survey questionnaires and procedures using electronic data capture,” said Dr Musuka.

Zimphia has so far been rolled out in Mashonaland Central, Manicaland and Matabeleland North provinces.

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