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HIV/AIDS: encouraging 5-year decline in Zimbabwe

UN agency for HIV/AIDS reports encouraging 5-year decline of the disease in Zimbabwe

A preliminary review of HIV incidence and prevalence in Zimbabwe has indicated a decline over the past five years, possibly due to a decrease in the number of sexual partners, and increased condom use, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said today.

While calling this development “encouraging,” the agency stressed the need to ensure that the downward trend in Zimbabwe is sustained.

According to their initial review, which will be published in December, the prevalence of HIV among pregnant women declined from 24.6 per cent to 21.3 per cent in the past 5 years, and other research points to the same positive indicators.

The results “suggest that several elements of behaviour changes may have played a part in the apparent decline,” said the agency, including the possible reduction in the number of sexual partners in recent years, and an increase in condom use among non-regular partners.

UNAIDS said it will work with partners in Zimbabwe to ascertain the interventions that led to the decline, and to make sure that they are sustained.

The positive indicators notwithstanding, the agency called for continued vigilance in Zimbabwe where HIV prevalence rates are still among the highest in the world. It warned that infection rates could start rising again if underlying factors contributing to unsafe sexual behaviour, including gender inequality, poverty and population mobility, are not sufficiently addressed.

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