NOVEMBER 16, 2021, a virtual close out event was held in commemoration of the successful implementation of the;
Zimbabwe HIV Care and Treatment Project (ZHCT); and the;
Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS Free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) project.
Special gratitude to the generous support of the American people through the U.S President’s Emergency Plan on AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) which contributed to the effective implementation of the program.
Zimbabwe has made great strides towards achievement of HIV epidemic control with the 2020 The Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA) showing that 86% of PLHIV know their status, 97% of HIV positive people are on life-long ART and 90% of those on ART are virally suppressed. With funding support from PEPFAR through USAID, the FHI 360 ZHCT mechanism (comprising the ZHCT and DREAMS programs) contributed towards national achievement of the UNAIDS 95-95-95 goals.
- Focused on reducing HIV incidence in Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW). Women and young girls are disproportionately affected by HIV, with adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) being more than twice at risk of HIV infection than their male counterparts. Some structural drivers that directly and indirectly increase AGYW’s risk of contracting HIV include poverty, gender inequality, sexual and gender-based violence, and a lack of education.
- According to ZIMPHIA 2016 and 2020 reports, HIV incidence among AGYW has declined significantly from 0.53% to 0.3% respectively. The DREAMS layering approach contributed towards addressing the multi-vulnerabilities of AGYW, thereby building urgency required to sustain positive behaviors.
- For the past 6 years the DREAMS program managed to address different vulnerabilities implementing strategies that tackled HIV drivers amongst adolescent girls. A targeted approach which was developed through the DREAMS implementing partners provided a systematic way of assessing vulnerability and risk among AGYW. The program managed to reach out to 573 757 girls using this approach.
- To ensure effective implementation of the program 3,161 guidance and counselling teachers, 896 school-based supervisors from 1,283 schools as well as 120 district supervisors were trained on the three violence prevention modules and data quality management. This resulted in 520 000 girls being supported to stay in school.
- The provision of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services to adolescent girls and young women was critical during the implementation of the project working together with community cadres such as DREAMS Ambassadors and PrEP champions. Through DREAMS program interventions, 46 056 adolescent girls and young women sexual and reproductive health services such HIV testing, Condoms, STI screening and treatment, Family planning, GBV screening.
- The Economic Strengthening (ES) intervention has not only promoted economic empowerment of AGYW and households, but it has also contributed towards attainment of the global goals/ sustainable development goals.
- Vulnerable adolescent girls and young women were capacitated with financial education through the foundational or basic financial literacy training which was delivered as part of the primary package followed by training in savings groups (SG) through the Internal Savings and Lending methodology reaching a total of 39 016 adolescent girls and young women.
- With funding support from PEPFAR through USAID, the ZHCT project has been critical in providing technical support to the MOHCC to accelerate progress towards HIV epidemic control.
- FHI 360’s contribution to attaining the first UNAIDS 95 is well documented. Over the 6 years, the project reached out to 330, 149 individuals with HIV testing services.
- The first 5 years of the program, (2015 – 2020) involved a comprehensive community health program whose overall purpose was to strengthen community-facility linkages.
- The ZHCT project is recognized for pioneering at scale the index case testing modality in Zimbabwe. This project was a trend setter in high yield index case testing and sexual network tracing in Zimbabwe, achieving and sustaining yield rates of more than 30% from community-based HTS.
- The ZHCT program effectively implemented strategies that promoted people living with HIV to be initiated on antiretroviral therapy (ART) thereby contributing to the 2nd Over the past 6 years, 33 750 adults and children were initiated on ART, 52 467 PLHIV registered as defaulters were tracked and brought back to care and 7 934 pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV were brough back to care.
- For the 3rd 95 – 118 668 ART clients had Suppressed VL results
- The project supported 80 654 ART clients who were initiated on TB Preventive Therapy and 45 279 women living with HIV who were screened for cervical cancer.
ZHI celebrates the ZHCT and DREAMS projects’ contribution to the national health strategy!