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The government has lamented the widespread stigma and discrimination saying it was the major drawback on its efforts to respond to HIV and Aids, a government official has said.

Minister of State for Harare Metropolitan Province, Oliver Chidawu said this in his speech during the Harare Provincial World Aids Day commemorations that were held at Town Centre in Chitungwiza.

“One of the major drawbacks to our national response to HIV and Aids has been widespread stigma and discrimination of people leaving with HIV on account of their status,” said Minister Chidawu.

“I want to appeal to National Aids Council (NAC) and its partners to strengthen programs focusing on changing people’s attitudes towards people living with HIV as a building block towards everyone to know and appreciate their status in line with the campaign’s payoff line.

“I am pleased that NAC in Harare has poured in resources this year amounting to more than a million RTGS to reach out to targeted populations such as sex workers, youth in and out of school in order to reduce the spread of HIV.”

He also recommended that people should get tested for HIV.

“As we commemorate World Aids Day, we need to think about ways in which we can promote uptake of testing for HIV and screening for other sexually transmitted infections, cancers, and tuberculosis.

“We need to vigorously promote HIV testing particularly among pregnant women, youths, adolescent girls and young women, sex workers and other hard to reach key populations. There are vital lessons that we can scale up from the successful innovations such as the index (contacts) case HIV testing, HIV self-testing, and the youth’s projects.”

Minister Chidawu also applauded First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa for championing the health of women and children.

“Over the past year, she has led campaigns to get women screened and treated for cancer and pregnant women to be HIV tested for their own health and that of their babies, complementing the Ministry of Health and Child Care.”

“Our aim is to reduce the spread of the virus with the theme ‘My status, My health my life’. This is to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and mortality” With these educators, we will reach to the people who are difficult to talk to the like of sex workers and people in remote areas.

Speaking at the same event, Chitungwiza Municipality’s environmental health and solid waste manager, Mr. Herbet Chirowodza said as a health department has been taking measures to reduce the spread of the virus by having researches facilities in its polyclinics.

“As Chitungwiza is in support of reducing the spread of the virus by having research facilities in our clinics.”

This year’s commemorations were held under the theme; “My Status, My Health, My Life,’ and was attended by a various stakeholder who included NAC, Centre for Sexual Health and HIV and AIDS Research, Organization for Public Health Interventions and Development, Youth Advocates in Action and Pangea Zimbabwe Trust among others.