Patrick Chitumba in Zvimba, Mashonaland West Province
ZVIMBA District in Mashonaland West Province recorded over 710 HIV related deaths and 800 new HIV infections according to 2018 estimates.
In an interview on the sidelines of the National Aids Council (NAC ) media tour at Herbert Chitepo Clinic in Zvimba District yesterday, the NAC District Aids Coordinator Mr Douglas Mwinga said the district 2018 statistics indicate that there are 41 850 people living with HIV and AIDS up from 29 111 the previous year.
“According to the 2018, estimates, Zvimba District recorded 831 new cases of HIV infections which is a decrease from 906 recorded in 2017. There are about 41 850 people living with HIV and AIDS now up from 29 111 recorded in 2017. The district is mainly a farming area and there are a lot of cases of multiple and concurrent sexual partners. In the farming compounds, the people exchange spouses and they do this without even knowing their HIV status,” he said.
Mr Mwinga said the district was a highway corridor linking Harare and Chirundu border post leading to an influx of truckers and sex workers.
He said STIs are a major challenge to the response to HIV and AIDS.
Mr Mwinga said truckers also lead to the surge in sex workers adding that last year Mount Hampden area recorded 419 new cases of STI’s in the age 10 to 25 years.
“According to statistics, Mount Hampden recorded 429 new cases of STI’s which is an indicator of HIV cases. Other hot spots in relation to STI’s in the district include Blanket, Murombedzi, Mutorashanga and Nyabira,” he said.
Mr Mwinga said there was also a surge in anti natal care by adolescents and teenage girls in the district.
“We also noted a surge in young girls seeking ANC services in clinics and hospitals. There is also a surge in school drop outs especially by the girls who would have gotten pregnant.”
“There is also a surge in gender based violence which is a proxy indicator of HIV,”he said.
Mr Mwinga said there is need to scale up programme to address HIV and AIDS scourge among all age groups in all hot spots or in key populations.
“There is a need to scale up HIV prevention activities since this district is classified as medium with high risk factors.
“As NAC we have these programmes that have been there but are just being intensified to instill a sense of behavior change in key populations which include sex workers, truck drivers, and farming communities. We are advocating for condom use, HIV testing because we are saying everyone must know his/her status,” he said.
Mr Mwinga said it was unfortunate that such programmes such as voluntary medical male circumcision was low in the district.
“Farming communities have been found to be hot spots for early childhood marriages, farm workers change sexual partners easily and they engage in unprotected sex without knowing their HIV status which drives the rate of new infections and STI’s.”