REVELATIONS by Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Phillip Valerio Sibanda that the State security sector, hit hard by HIV and Aids, is struggling to provide adequate health care to its sick personnel demands that all stakeholders look into it, especially so because efforts to end the pandemic have been scaled up across the world.
The country has done a lot of work in this area and this has seen the HIV prevalence rate fall down from 30% in 1999 to the current 14,7%.
There is therefore need to scale up efforts to ensure that such gains are not lost through ensuring that all those who require anti-retroviral therapy access it so they can continue enjoying a healthy life.
The security sector is a component of the nation and we cannot have a situation where members continuously succumb to the disease, which has become treatable.
Efforts need to be scaled up to ensure access to treatment as well as preaching the gospel of abstinence where possible and the sustained use of protection.
We cannot allow HIV to become the biggest threat to our national security.
Clearly, the security sector is a crucial group given that many of their members spend a lot of time away from their partners and the need for personal self-discipline cannot be over-emphasized, and this is something that members of the sector are well-acquainted with given the demands of their job.
Indeed, the rising morbidity and mortality rates have a negative impact on the operations of the uniformed forces, which demands that some critical interventions be made urgently.
Given the positive strides made in the country in rolling out treatment to people living with HIV, there is strong hope that Sibanda’s cry will be heeded.
The fact that members of the security forces are among the over a million men that have gone under the knife as part of the voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) in Zimbabwe demonstrates a strong commitment in the security sector to halt the HIV tide as rates of the new infections are significantly reduced.