THE country’s HIV prevalence rate has risen to 15 percent, a 0,74 percent increase from 14,26 percent recorded last year, statistics from the National Aids Council (NAC) reveal.
The statistics also show that despite the increase in the HIV prevalence, Zimbabwe is still one of the biggest condom users with more than 100 million distributed in 2012.
Speaking at a two-day comprehensive condom promotion workshop for Bulawayo councillors, Bulawayo provincial Aids coordinator Mrs Sinatra Nyathi, said early marriages, spousal separation and low risk perception were still the major challenges in eradicating HIV and Aids.
“Our prevalence rate is slightly up from the 14,26 percent recorded last year and this is an indicator that we still have barriers in our community,” said Mrs Nyathi.
“Matabeleland region still has the highest prevalence because we still have an increase in spousal separation since most people have moved to South Africa and Botswana to seek employment.”
She urged councillors to prioritise HIV and Aids awareness programmes in their wards.
“We need to work together in fighting HIV and Aids and I urge councillors to take a leading role and be at the forefront of pushing for zero new infections, zero HIV and Aids related deaths and zero stigmatisation in Bulawayo. We distributed a lot of condoms last year but it is still sad because there is still a low uptake of the female condom designed to complement the male condom,” said Mrs Nyathi.
Recent reports show that the uptake of anti-retroviral drugs is on the increase in Matabeleland provinces with revelations that scores of women are collecting the life prolonging drugs on behalf of their spouses working in South Africa and Botswana.
Matabeleland region, which includes Bulawayo, has the highest HIV and Aids prevalence rate compared to other provinces.
Matabeleland South and North have a 21 percent prevalence rate, Bulawayo 19 percent, Harare 13 percent while Mashonaland Central, Manicaland and Masvingo have 14 percent each.
More than 1,2 million adults and children were last year said to be living with HIV and Aids while an estimated 657 000 were on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART).
The country recorded 45 621 HIV related deaths in 2012.