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Bulawayo among key HIV hotspots

by Staff reporter
19 Jan 2019 at 11:24hrs | Views
HARARE, Bulawayo and three other towns have been identified as HIV hotspots in Zimbabwe by an international study.

Avert, a United Kingdom-based research organisation said Bulawayo, Harare, Ruwa, Norton and Chitungwiza were found to be key HIV hotspots which need attention as many HIV positive people were not on treatment. The study revealed that 33 000 people living with HIV are not on treatment in Bulawayo.

According to the research, sexual behaviour continues to drive Zimbabwe's epidemic.

"For both men and women, behavioural factors such as having a higher number of lifetime sexual partners, low condom use and having sex at a younger age were identified as having a distinct geographical distribution associated with locations where HIV prevalence is higher than in other parts of the country," reads a part of the findings of the survey.

The research was generated to identify areas in the country where targeted HIV prevention and care services could have the greatest impact. According to data posted on Avert.org, in Zimbabwe around 13 percent of adults are living with HIV and more than 41 000 people become newly infected every year.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care states that 85 percent of people living with HIV are aware of their status and 95 percent of them are on antiretroviral treatment (ART).

It says 86 percent of those on treatment are virally suppressed.

"Researchers obtained data from the 2015 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey of more than 9 000 women and 7 000 men, which they cross-referenced with the 2016 Zimbabwe Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment report and other studies. This information was used to produce HIV prevalence maps, which were then combined with population density maps to pinpoint areas with high concentrations of people living with HIV yet poor ART coverage and viral suppression levels," read part of the findings of the study.

Consistent with other studies, the analysis found HIV to be most prevalent in the southwest of the country, between the provinces of Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South, although high numbers of men and women living with HIV were also found in northern and eastern Zimbabwe.

The most concentrated levels of people living with HIV were found in HIV 'hotspots', which are urban settings: Harare, Norton, Chitungwiza, Ruwa and Bulawayo. It was also found in the research that ART coverage and HIV spending was found to be slightly lower in provinces with higher HIV prevalence.

"More than 230 000 men and 350 000 women were found to be lacking treatment and care. A significant fraction of these people (22 percent) live in HIV hotspots, which occupy just 2 percent of Zimbabwe's landmass. The cities of Harare and Bulawayo alone are home to around 113 000 and 33 000 people living with HIV who are not on treatment, respectively," reads the findings.


Source - chronicle

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