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Zimbabwe’s Plan To Conduct Household HIV Testing Raises Concerns Among Some Advocates

PlusNews examines the challenges and concerns surrounding Zimbabwe’s plan to conduct a door-to-door HIV testing campaign, which has not yet begun but “is already being met with skepticism by activists who feel this is not a priority for the country, especially with global HIV/AIDS funding on the decline.” National AIDS officials say the country’s “AIDS levy — a three percent tax on income — has become a promising source of funding”; in 2010, $20.5 million was collected, with most of that going to purchase antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), PlusNews notes. Of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV in Zimbabwe, 347,000 access ARVs through a national program, and another 600,000 people “urgently” need them, according to the news service.

“With limited money to scale up the provision of ARVs, the health care system would not have the capacity to treat those testing positive during the campaign, activists have cautioned,” PlusNews writes, adding, “Activists have also raised concerns about whether the testing campaign will go beyond merely testing people, and whether it will motivate them to change their sexual behaviors and also refer those testing positive to treatment facilities.” In addition, some people have raised concerns over ensuring informed consent is received and confidentiality is kept in a program so large, the news service notes (3/15).