ZIMBABWE joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Aids Day yesterday as the country continues to grapple with the pandemic which has decimated families and wreaked havoc with the socio-economic development of the nation.
But there were still 69 000 new infections in 2013 and in the same year, there were 64 000 deaths from Aids-related illnesses, a 57 percent reduction since 2005. Key populations that have been identified as red zones for HIV infections include tertiary institutions such as universities and colleges, mining communities, sex workers and the gay community.
The activities of illegal gold panners have been directly linked to a spike in HIV prevalence with the small community of Umzingwane in Matabeleland South baffling authorities with its unusually high HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infection rate.
The Government has commissioned a study to ascertain the reasons behind Umzingwane having the highest HIV and STI rate in the country with Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa remarking that such rates are expected at border towns.
Speaking after touring Filabusi and Esigodini District Hospitals recently, Dr Parirenyatwa revealed that there was a 21 percent HIV prevalence rate among young people between the ages of 16-25 in Umzingwane yet the national rate was 15 percent.
He also disclosed that sex workers accounted for 30 percent, prisons 28 percent while long distance truck drivers weighed in with 28 percent in the district.