World Aids Day Candlelight Vigil Remembers Auxilia Chimusoro

Victoria Falls, 01 December 2014 - Auxillia Chimusoro (1956-1998), first woman to publicly announce being HIV-POSITIVE in 1989 and became actively involved in the anti-AIDS struggle in 1992 when she formed support groups Batanai and ZNNP+. Today only one original member of ZNPP+ still survives but the support group she formed is well and still active in the fight against HIV and AIDS.WorldAidsDay2014 (3 of 8)_0_0.jpg

Auxilia Chimusoro worked to demystify HIV and AIDS through public talks, care and support initiatives, and established more than 50 support groups nationwide before she died in 1998, but her commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS remain intact.

In recognition of her hard work, dedication and commitment an Auxilia Chimusoro Award, was set up in her honour and each year it is awarded to committed Zimbabwean individuals and groups as they fight the pandemic in positive and creative ways. Past winners include Southern Africa AIDS Information and Dissemination Service (SAFAIDS), popular musician Oliver Mtukudzi and the New Start Centre initiative.

To mark the life and works of Chimusoro as well as those who passed away to HIV and AIDS, Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa led a Candlelight memorial at Chinotimba Hall in the resort town of Victoria Falls as part of World AIDS Day celebrations.

With an estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV today, the candlelight memorial serves as an important intervention for national solidarity, breaking down barriers of stigma and discrimination, and giving hope to new generations.

Dr Parirenyatwa said despite recent strides made in combating HIV and AIDS, Africa remained the centre of the pandemic and set to be worsened by the recent outbreak of Ebola, which is threatening to engulf the continent.

In a statement UNAIDS Country Director, Mr. Michael Bartos, commended Zimbabwe for exemplary leadership in fighting HIV and AIDS and should take lead in ending the pandemic by 2030.

“Zimbabwe has demonstrated great leadership, for example making key contributions to financing the response through the AIDS levy, implementing the most up-to-date international guidelines for HIV treatment and continued political leadership to end AIDS,” said Mr. Bartos.

Zimbabwe has witnessed a general decline in adult prevalence from a peak of 27% in 1997 to the current 15%, and there were fewer deaths reported, 55 000 in 2013 compared to 72 000 in 2009.  In support of Government efforts the United Nations, the Global Fund to Fight HIV, TB and Malaria and other local and international development partners have made available USD270 million to the HIV and AIDS response. This is in aid to Government’s own resource mobilising efforts like the successful AIDS levy.