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Outward migration fuelling HIV in Matebeleland North

by Staff reporter
28 Nov 2023 at 05:13hrs | Views
Matebeleland North is witnessing a surge in HIV incidence rates, a challenge exacerbated by factors such as outward migration, according to the National Aids Council (Nac). During a press briefing on a province-wide tour ahead of World Aids Day, Nac provincial manager Dingaan Ncube revealed that the province, primarily rural with only 8% residing in urban areas, bears a 15.5% prevalence rate, surpassing the national average of 11.1%. Ncube highlighted the rise in new HIV infections among young women, attributing it to partner separation, particularly when men migrate to South Africa or urban centers for better opportunities, often neglecting proper HIV prevention measures.

Nac has initiated interventions to address the heightened incidence, with Umguza and Tsholotsho identified as HIV hotspots, while Victoria Falls is marked by prevalent sex work. In Umguza district, Aids coordinator Mongiwabesuthu Ngwenya cited gold panners' influence on vulnerable young girls and child-headed families as a leading cause of new infections. Ngwenya emphasized the efficacy of the Sista-2-Sista program as a crucial intervention, aiming to empower girls aged 10-24 through a scientific approach, enabling better decision-making regarding sexual matters.

Umguza district currently reports a 0.27% incidence and a 12.5% prevalence rate. PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) has been instrumental since 2015 in providing HIV prevention services to over a million at-risk adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) aged 10-24 through DREAMS partnerships. DREAMS support encompasses HIV prevention, pre-exposure prophylaxis, economic empowerment initiatives, educational subsidies, and complementary services for orphans and vulnerable children. In the fiscal year 2023 alone, nearly 24,000 AGYW received DREAMS services in 16 districts of Zimbabwe.

Source - newzimbabwe