Catherine Murombedzi Health Correspondent
Stigma remains a stumbling block to accessing HIV services in Zimbabwe.
Some people are not free visiting the health centres during the day, let alone seen at an HIV mobile testing clinic.
The self testing HIV kits have offered an opportunity to private home testing.
However, the cost remains prohibitive with the kit costing $50 and up.
Very few people locally afford that.
The National AIDS Council of Zimbabwe and partners have seen it fit that they leave no one behind.
They have thus started the moonlight HIV testing.
According to the National Aids Council (NAC) District Aids Office for Mrehwa, Mrs Letwin Chanakira the moonlight tests were proving a hit.
Comparing the day time HIV tests and the moonlight HIV tests more people were tested at the moonlight session. The open air daylight session at Kadzere shopping centre managed to test 108 people. On the other hand, the moonlight session at Musami had 167 people coming for the HIV test.
Mrs Chanakira said night testing had proved to be a useful HIV/AIDS testing and STI screening in all the five hot spots in Mrehwa. These hotspots are Macheke, Mrehwa Centre, Madamombe, Kadzere and Musami.
“Today we are having awareness to HIV testing, voluntary male circumcision services and STI treatment. Kadzere is one of the hotspots in Mrehwa districts,” said Chanakira.
Mrehwa district is infamous for topping in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Mashonaland East province. In Kadzere, daylight HIV testing was done and at Musami centre, testing was by moonlight. Some patrons who would shy away from the day tests welcomed the night session at Musami.
One patron said she was scared of chasing away her clients if she visited a centre at day time so nocturnal sessions would help.
“I have clients who look at me with admiration so I can not scare them away by getting tested during the day, so I hope there will be a way to get counselling and medication at night too,” said second anonymous request.
As seen here some people are free to come for testing in the evening, away from the public eye.
Stigma and discrimination are still deciding factors to accessing test.
“We are targeting sex workers, women, young people and men, we see that men usually are not forthcoming to health issues,” said Chanakira.
The moonlight initiative will spread to other provinces where there is artisanal mining, sex work, cross border trading and areas where makeshift settlements are found.
By nature of these listed here sexual networks are rife calling for sexual reproductive services.
Ending AIDS by 2030 can be a mirage if innovative testing and behaviour change is not embraced with awareness drum beating louder than before.