Masvingo has 12 percent HIV/Aids prevalence rate – NAC

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By Staff Reporter

Masvingo: AN average of 12 people out of 100 are living with HIV/Aids in Masvingo province, National Aids Council (NAC) provincial manager Edgar Muzulu has said.

According to data compiled during the 3rd quarter of 2018, the average HIV prevalence rate for the province is sitting at 12,8 %.

Chivi district has the highest prevalence rate at 14.6% while Bikita is at the tail end with 11%.

Zaka has 12,6%, Mwenezi (11,8%) and Gutu is sitting at 11,5%.

To remedy the challenge, HIV based organisations such as the National Aids Council (NAC) has been working with partners, Population Services International (PSI), the Health Ministry and Zimbabwe National Family Planning (ZNFP) to roll out several awareness campaigns.

The programmes have also involved testing and treatment in areas most affected by HIV to combat the spread of the virus as well as closing the tap for new STI infections.

“Our hotspot where major infections come from is Masvingo urban. It is one such spot accounting for a number of STIs infections,” Muzulu said during a recent NAC sponsored media tour to the province.

“It is followed by Jerera growth point in Zaka where we have a problem of number of young girls selling sex, then Chibi turn-off as well, Ngundu and then we have Chiredzi.

“In Chiredzi, we have a big problem where there is the re-opening of Chigarapasi beer hall and there we have a number of sex workers from all over the country coming to ply their trade in there because there are so many workers in Chiredzi working at several sugar plantation and estates

“The sugar plantations provide a ready market for these sex workers.”

When Chigarapasi was closed, new STI infections dropped, but when it re-opened, figures started to rise sharply, Muzulu said, adding that there are 138 208 people living with HIV in the province, according to estimates for the third quarter of 2018.

“And out of these, we have 9 000 being children,” he said.

Muzulu went on to say that key drivers of HIV and AIDS in the province were multi-concurrent partners, low risk perception and low condom use especially in long term relations, among others.

“We also have low levels of voluntary male circumcision as well as intergenerational sex and we also have transactional sex which is rampant through the province,” he said.

However, the HIV/Aids prevalence rate in Masvingo has followed the general pattern of that obtaining in the country except for the two Matebeleland provinces which have experienced high rates, according to 2017 statistics by the Ministry of Health.

In 2017, Matabeleland North has 17,6 %, Matebeleland South 21 %, Masvingo (12,9%), Bulawayo (14, 3%), Midlands (15%), Mashonaland East (15,2%), Harare (12,8%), Mashonaland Central (11,9%) and Mashonaland West recorded (13,2%), according to Kurehwa’s presentation.