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HIV Positive Persons Fret Over Food Insecurities

People living with chronic diseases fear drought induced hunger after failed harvests. Image by Ewing

BY VUSINDLU MAPHOSA | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | MAY 6, 2022
Poor rains coupled with prolonged dryness resulted in planted crops wilting, and food monitoring agencies such as the Famine Early Warnings System Network have urged authorities to start planning humanitarian response programmes.

GWANDA (The Citizen Bulletin) — Healthy and natural foods are some of the requirements for people with HIV and AIDs to maintain good health.

But there is concern among those living with the chronic disease owing to fears of a drought induced hunger.

“I have been living with HIV for some years now. One thing for sure is that HIV medication requires one to eat well. Without anything in your stomach, it is hard to take medication.”
Thandiwe Gatsheni, a resident at Nyandeni area in Gwanda

A Beitbridge villager Sibusiso Dewa, says eating healthy food helped her in fighting HIV after she was diagnosed as positive.

However, Dewa says she is struggling to have three meals a day after the poor harvest.

“Getting a meal is a torrid task now. We are facing a serious drought, and we really need the government and non-governmental organisations to intervene before we die due to hunger and HIV,” Dewa says.

Stanford Nkomo of Matobo echoes similar fears, saying taking medication ‘without having a meal is painful’.

A social worker in Filabusi, Insiza, Sibongile Sibanda says the HIV positive community members are crying foul that their crops suffered from the heatwave.

“Most of the farmers here applied a lot of fertilizer and when the dry hot spell hit the area, their crops wilted and dried. Those who were getting food from social welfare, the supplies were stopped and they are now stranded,” Sibanda notes.

According to Matabeleland South National AIDS Council provincial manager, Isaia Abureni, Matabeleland South has 94 168 people living with HIV, 42 612 of them are male and the remaining 51 556 females.

Abureni says her NAC provincial office has not received any reports of food shortages among the HIV positive.

“There have been no concerns/complaints of food shortage among people living with HIV. We have not recorded any deaths reported due to food shortages,” Abureni says.

A NAC report released in February shows that Matabeleland South province has a high HIV prevalence rate, and this was attributed to its proximity to South Africa and Botswana.

Matabeleland South has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the country at 17, 1 percent, followed by Matabeleland North at 14, 5 percent and Bulawayo at 13, 7 percent and Manicaland at 10 percent.

Mashonaland Central has the lowest prevalence rate at 0, 2 %.

Data visualization: The Citizen Bulletin

NAC recently launched the Zimbabwe National HIV and Aids Strategic Plan IV 2021-2025 (ZNASP IV) whose vision is to end HIV as a public health threat by 2030.

The strategy also seeks to reduce the mortality rate to less than 5 percent by 2025 and eliminate HIV related stigma and discrimination.

Zimbabwean statistics show that there are 1, 3 million HIV positive people in Zimbabwe and out of that, 97 percent are now on antiretroviral therapy.

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NAC monitoring and evaluation director, Amon Mpofu attributes the high prevalence rate in Matabeleland to high mobility and spousal separation among other reasons.

“There is a lot of movement of people from the neighbouring countries into our borders. Spousal separation in Matabeleland is also a contributing factor as many people are working either in Botswana or South Africa while their spouses are left behind. This increases cases of infidelity,” Mpofu says.

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