Zimbabwe has become the first country in the African continent and the third worldwide to approve an HIV prevention drug which was recently recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). The US and Australia have already backed the use of long-acting injectable cabotegravir (CAB-LA). While the WHO has applauded the move by Zimbabwe. The country’s fight against HIV has seen AIDS-related deaths plummet from a record 130,000 in 2002 to 20,000 in 2021.
The drug has renewed the hope of further reducing deaths in southern Africa and followed the WHO’s recommendation in July that CAB-LA is very effective at reducing transmission among people at high risk of contracting HIV. Last year, the country launched a strategic plan to end AIDS by 2030 and has already attained a target known as 90-90-90 – 90% of people living with HIV knowing their status; 90% getting antiretroviral treatment and 90% have the virus suppressed.
Nyasha Sithole, a member of the Development Agenda for Girls and Women in Africa (DAWA) network, said, “Accelerating HIV prevention for girls and young women requires an expansion of choices available. I am excited and proud to know that my country has approved using CAB-LA. This will contribute to our basket of HIV prevention tools that work for us as girls and women in Zimbabwe.”