Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
MATABELELAND North Province has the highest HIV prevalence among children in Zimbabwe with about 3.2 percent of children under 14 years infected.
According to the 2015 Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey, Mashonaland East has the second highest prevalence with 2.3 percent. Matabeleland South and Midlands provinces share third spot.
Bulawayo is on position nine with 1,1 percent followed by Mashonaland Central with 1 percent.
Experts say the low uptake of the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) was the major reason why most children are living with HIV.
Bulawayo Aids coordinator Mrs Sinatra Nyathi encouraged people to prioritise family testing and ending gender-based violence as a way of curbing the infection of children.
“Our national HIV prevalence stands at 14 percent and that excludes children aged below 14. We have many children who were infected when they were born while others were sexually abused. It’s sad to note that we also have young sex workers who got infected while engaging in their trade,” said Mrs Nyathi.
“It will be impossible for us as a country to reach the 2020 targets if expecting mothers delay seeking healthcare and end up infecting new born babies. We therefore urge everyone to know their status and for families to take their little ones for testing.”
She added that it was the role of every Zimbabwean to ensure that children below the age of 14 who test HIV positive are put on antiretroviral therapy.
The world targets that by 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status and 90 percent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy. The third 2020 target is that by 2020, 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
According to AVERT, there were 2.6 million children living with HIV around the world at the end of 2015 — the majority in Africa where Aids remains the leading cause of death among adolescents. Only 32 percent of children living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART).