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African AIDS education may be working in Zimbabwe

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Section: Accounts Geography: Africa Zimbabwe Topics: AIDS

February 8, 2006

African AIDS education may be working in Zimbabwe

by Gwalgen Geordie Dent

A recently published census conducted in Zimbabwe has shown a 50% drop in prevalence of HIV in some groups.  The study, conducted by researchers from London and Zimbabwe between 1997 and 2003, focused on nearly 10 000 people and found that a reduction of sexual partners, a delay on first-time sexual encounters and an increase in the use of condoms, has produced an overall decline in HIV.

Women, aged 15 to 24 saw a 49% reduction in HIV prevalence, while men aged 17 to 29 saw a 23% drop.  Although Zimbabwe does not have the AIDS prevention resources or funds compared to some of its neighbors such as Zambia, the country has joined Uganda in being one of the only 2 Sub-Sahara countries to see a significant decline in their the prevalence of HIV.

The decrease has been attributed to education programs launched in the 1990's which focused on a variety of behaviors which reduce the risk of HIV transmission such as monogamy, abstenance and using condoms. Canadian support to fight against AIDS in Africa has mostly focused on he use of anti-retroviral drugs but high costs have meant that only 5% of those in Zimbabwe in need of these drugs are receiving them.

Of global HIV infections, 70% of them are in Africa and 80% of all AIDS-related deaths are in Africa as well. Some countries such as Botswana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe have infection rates of over 30% of the population.

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