“Information on HIV and Aids that includes testing, counselling and dispensing of medication which is available in the country only suits those people who are able-bodied,” she said.
“Therefore deaf and blind people face a huge challenge as they remain in the dark. Confidentiality is being compromised as one will have to go with a translator as many health care-givers do not know sign language and health institutions do not have Braille, which is meant for blind people.”
Mauto said fear of stigma and discrimination also prevented some people with disabilities from being tested or to seek more information on HIV and Aids. She said there was also a wrong perception that people with disabilities were not at risk of contracting HIV and Aids.
Addressing a regional HIV/Aids workshop last week in Harare, Health and Child Welfare minister Henry Madzorera said the government was working to ensure the accessibility of HIV information to people with disabilities.
He said health workers at all levels had been trained on disability issues, deaf awareness and sign language to improve communication.
But Madzorera admitted that a lot still had to be done to improve access to information on HIV and Aids, as many programmes have not been taking people with disabilities into consideration.
It also emerged at the workshop that the sharp decline in the HIV prevalence rate of 13,1% did not take into consideration people with disabilities.
The country does not have statistics on people with disabilities who are HIV-positive, therefore it becomes difficult for donors who may be willing to support them.
The workshop was hosted by DHAT and was attended by health representatives from Botswana, Malawi and Zambia.