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The HIV and AIDS epidemic in Zimbabwe

Where Are We Now? Where Are We Going?

Background Projections Impacts Strategic Response

May 2004, National Aids Council

SARPN acknowledges the USAID Development Experience Clearinghouse website (www.dec.org) as the source of this document.
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Foreword

The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and National AIDS Council are pleased to introduce its new publication The HIV and AIDS Epidemic in Zimbabwe: Where Are We Now? Where Are We Going? This document provides background to the epidemic, gives consideration to the social and economic impacts of the epidemic, looks at the national strategic response and makes projections about the epidemic under certain assumptions,. It will be accompanied by a series of policy briefs that look at different programmatic interventions.

The goal of the book and policy briefs is to provide an update on the epidemic and the Zimbabwean response. These documents contain much useful information and are written in a simple language to make them useful to as many people as possible. The HIV and AIDS epidemic is an extremely complex phenomenon and no single series can capture all aspects of the situation. Regardless, I believe these documents are an important contribution to Zimbabwean efforts to limit the spread of HIV and to provide care and support for those already infected and otherwise affected by the epidemic.

The HIV and AIDS epidemic is the most serious challenge faced by Zimbabwe since independence. As the book notes, Zimbabwe is one of the worst affected countries in the entire world. An estimated 24.6 percent of the population aged 15–49 is currently infected, and HIV prevalence has been at this level for several years. The consequence has been widespread death and massive suffering among our people. Life expectancy at birth has fallen below levels that existed at independence, wiping out the gains of a generation.

This is an opportune time to look anew at the status and course of the epidemic and our national response. We have several new sources of information about HIV and AIDS and sexual behaviour, including new sentinel surveillance data and a young adults sexual behaviour survey. This new information means that we know more about the status and course of the epidemic than before and that we have more knowledge by which to plan interventions.

This is going to be a long, difficult struggle, and the consequences of the AIDS epidemic are going to be with us for decades. Nonetheless, I believe that we are at a turning point, and I am convinced that with commitment and energy we can now change the course of this epidemic and move towards a nation free from HIV and AIDS.

Finally, on behalf of MOHCW and NAC, I wish to acknowledge and thank the many national and international experts who contributed to the authorship and review of this document.

Dr. P.D. Parirenyatwa, Minister of Health and Child Welfare



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