ZIMBABWE’S National Aids Council (Nac) says it is now targeting the informal sector in its fight against HIV infections as well as Tuberculosis (TB) as this was a largely ignored area.

Speaking at the launch of Zimbabwe Informal Economy HIV and Aids Strategy 2022 to 2025 in Harare on Tuesday, Nac acting chief executive officer Raymond Yekeye said the informal economy has not been adequately targeted within the range of national efforts to fight HIV /Aids, TB and non-communicable diseases.

“In line with the national and global goal of leaving no one behind and ending Aids by 2030, the role of the informal economy is strongly acknowledged, hence the need to safeguard the sector through ensuring comprehensive HIV and Aids programmers and services.

“We recognise the need to empower all sectors through their networks and organisations in order to challenge the impact of HIV and Aids in institutions. It is against this background that Nac in collaboration with informal economy associations and other partners embarked on developing an HIV and Aids strategy for the informal economy which is being launched today,” Yekeye said.

He said there had been a wrong perception about the informal sector as it was not treated as a work place and hence were left out on various workplace HIV interventions.

“A situation analysis carried out to identify the challenges facing the informal economy and as part of the strategy development revealed the devastating impact of HIV on the sector.

“The dynamics of knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions on the impact of HIV and Aids in the small to medium enterprises sector indicate that risky behaviour is rampant in the sector.

“HIV and Aids strategy sets forth opportunities and guidance for redoubling the country’s efforts to stem the number of new HIV infections.

“Nac is committed to work together and monitor progress through the regular reviews”.

Yekeye revealed that Aids prevalence remained high in the country at around 11,8 percent on average and predominantly affected women who contribute 14,8 percent as compared to 8,6  percent among men.

“HIV prevalence is almost twice as high in females aged 15-24 years at 5,2 percent compared to their male counterparts who are at 2,9 percent.

“The number of people living with HIV is estimated at 1,3 million out of which 1,2 million are adults aged 15-49 years and children under the age of 15 accounting  for 6,2 percent  (78 700) of all people living with HIV.

“The successes in the decline of both the annual incidence and prevalence have been attributed to the decentralized multi-sectoral approach in which the Nac partnered the government, communities, civil society organisations, Networks of PLHIV, Faith-based organisations, the private sector, informal sector, development partners and donors in collective action to counteract the epidemic,” Sibanda said. – Daily News