In the late 1990âs, and at the height of the Aids epidemic, Zimbabwe was one of the countries worst hit. At its peak in 2000, over 30 percent of the population was HIV positive, many without access to even basic treatment. Mdecins sans Frontières (MSF) successfully launched HIV programs in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC). Today, the number of people who are HIV positive in Zimbabwe has been reduced to 15 percent.'Epworth Clinic, lies on the outskirts of Harare. In 2006 a HIV program was set up there, born out of the discovery that in the settlement of Epworth a high percentage of people were affected with HIV.'Epworth settlement was founded in 2005, during the Harare City clean-up operation. Thousands of people were relocated from informal settlements in the city. Around 20, 000 resettled in Epworth, a former farm, on Harareâs outskirts. In that same year, due to the growing needs in the area, MSF started providing primary health care in the settlement, together with the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC).'Today, although the number of people who are HIV positive in Zimbabwe has dropped to 15 per cent, major gaps in treatment remain. Common causes include a lack of medical staff; the high cost of treatment and the long distances people must travel to reach medical care. These are challenges that community programs, like the one at Epworth Clinic, seek to address.'CARGs'CARGs groups are community based support groups. In these groups people share their experiences and give each other support. People used to be scared to openly tell they were HIV positive or even to get tested, because of stigma. The CARGs groups have been successful in battling this stigma. The groups meet once a month during which the medication gets distributed. In a rotating system a group member that is on duty will go to the health facility to collect the ARV (HIV) medication and distributes it among the members of his/her group in the community. This model works well in rural environments with long distances to clinics., It reduces the disruption of the lives of HIV patients who may otherwise have had to take time off work to pick up their medication. In Zimbabwe, MSF works with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to roll out the groups. Today in Epworth over 1000 HIV positive patients have joined a CARG group.''Ronnie (45) 'In 2009, Ronnie found out he was HIV positive. He started his treatment that same year. In 2015 he joined a community support group (CARGs).
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