HIV-AIDS activists in Zimbabwe have applauded statements from government officials saying their objective in 2007 is to nearly triple the number of people on antiretroviral drug treatment. The state-run Herald newspaper last week quoted HIV-AIDS national coordinator Owen Mugurungi as saying the government hoped to have 160,000 people receiving ARV drug therapy, compared with about 50,000 today.
Activists say the statement indicates that the government has understood that it is not enough to roll out prevention programs when hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are infected and thousands of them are dying each week for lack of treatment.
Nonetheless, organizations involved in prevention, such as Populations Services International, say the decline in recent years in Zimbabwe's HIV prevalence rate, now believed to be around 18% of adults, came about due to prevention programs.
PSI Deputy Country Director Yasmin Madan tells reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that although Southern African remains the epicenter of the global AIDS pandemic, Zimbabwe stands apart due to its focus on prevention.