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WHILE Zimbabwe has made headway in the fight against HIV and AIDS the government has been found wanting when it comes to HIV infected children.

A report by the Organisation for Public Health Interventions and Development (OPHID) report says while there has been progress in the case of adults, there is need to ensure that children and adolescents receive the care, treatment and support that they require.

“OPHID and its partners … are concerned about the health of infants born to HIV positive mothers (HIV exposed children),” says the Report.

“These children, whether HIV infected or not, have higher risk of morbidity and mortality than infants who are not exposed.”

The report calls upon families, communities and health care providers to step up efforts in the identification of HIV exposed children so that they are given the care they deserve.

The report further calls for the expansion of immunisation and early childhood education programmes in order that children are tested early for HIV. FACE Pediatric HIV Programmes Director, Sara Page-Mtongwiza agreed with the reports adding that “those that test positive will be initiated on treatment as soon as possible.”

She added: “As a strategy to enhance child survival, there is a need for renewed efforts to increasing access to HIV care and treatment services for children exposed to HIV.”

She said this requires active participation and commitment from families, communities and health care providers.

She said: “Community support through structures such as support groups has contributed to increased treatment outcomes for adults.

“It is critical that such community initiatives are expanded to children to ensure that they thrive, in an environment where children and adolescents feel comfortable to take their ARV medicines for the rest of their lives”.

Source : New Zimbabwe