The government of Zimbabwe has shown commitment in trying to address the HIV/AIDS crisis. Like many other countries in southern Africa, it faces numerous social and economic obstacles in the fight against the pandemic. In contrast to other countries, Zimbabwe has had to deal with reduced donor funding towards HIV/AIDS. However, at the same time the government has promoted policies and practices that violate human rights, exacerbate the pandemic and increase vulnerability to infection.
The governments response to HIV/AIDS has also been compromised by numerous other political and social crises that have dominated political attention and overshadowed the implementation of national policies on HIV/AIDS. The government has made apparent its political commitment towards fighting AIDS, but the governments poor political and economic policies cannot be ignored. These include the land reform program which has increased food and economic insecurity; and the governments disregard for democracy, the rule of law and human rights which has led to political tensions between the government and the international community and resulted in reduced donor funding. Such decisions have effectively left the government unable to adequately address the crisis.
Poor and marginalized groups are often the ones who lack access to HIV/AIDS treatment and care because they are frequently confronted with numerous economic obstacles. As detailed in this report the governments actions have had a particularly detrimental affect on the lives of poor and marginalized people living with HIV/AIDS and other groups such as divorced and widowed women. The government risks a reversal in the progress on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention achieved thus far unless it takes serious steps to address violations of human rights and creates an environment that is conducive to debate and activism on human rights and HIV/AIDS.
The poor have also borne the greater brunt of the international communitys ire with the government of Zimbabwe which has translated into reduced funding towards HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs. The international community should continue to put pressure on the government of Zimbabwe to improve its human rights record. However without increased funding and technical assistance the government of Zimbabwe faces an uphill battle in trying to address the pandemic. Ultimately it will be the poor and most vulnerable Zimbabweans who suffer the most from a lack of donor funding and not the government of Zimbabwe.