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WORLD AIDS DAY: MSF celebrates a decade of milestones in HIV care - Epworth, Zimbabwe

In commemorating World AIDS Day 2016, we celebrate the milestones reached since Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) in Zimbabwe, partnered in 2006 to establish the Epworth Clinic which offers HIV treatment to thousands of people in the outskirts of Harare.

This year we revisit the first group of patients from Epworth’s HIV programme including our  very first patient, 40 year-old Florence.

Florence is a testament to the success of the HIV programme in Epworth. Her health has improved and her HIV infection is under control. She says she’s no longer ashamed of her HIV status.

“Being diagnosed HIV positive doesn’t affect me anymore, although initially, it upset me. Now that I have accepted the situation it hasn’t changed the course of my life.”

Like Florence, many people have benefitted from the programme and are living positively. Here please find the testimonies of other patients who have benefitted from the HIV programme in Epworth http://bit.ly/2fHDXin

Epworth clinic has grown from one humble stand-alone building, into a fully-fledged community medical hub with: a laboratory, pharmacy, consultation rooms, a day clinic, youth friendly corner and meeting facilities. Along with providing general healthcare, Epworth Clinic focuses on the treatment of more than 30,000 HIV patients who've received medical care.

The Epworth Clinic ‘community care’ approach goes beyond screening and medicating, it extends to running support groups for TB and HIV, providing counselling and education sessions and empowering nurses to manage and distribute medication to HIV patients. This approach has decentralised treatment from the overburdened and often inaccessible central hospital to health centres in the community.

In the 10 years since the HIV programme began in Epworth, HIV prevalence has reduced from over 30 per cent at its peak, to 15 per cent, and today over 1000 HIV positive patients have formed support groups in the community.

In the late 1990’s, and at the height of the AIDS epidemic, Zimbabwe was one of the countries worst hit. At its peak in 2000, over 30% of the population was HIV positive, many without access to even basic treatment.

Today, the number of people who are HIV positive in Zimbabwe has reduced to 15%  but major gaps in treatment remain...

These barriers include a lack of medical staff, the high cost of treatment and the long distances people must travel to reach medical care. These are challenges that community programmes, like the one at Epworth Clinic, seek to address.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Médecins sans frontières (MSF).