ARVs giving false bravado

HARARE - Health communication experts have noted a worrying trend in HIV and Aids prevention especially with the advent and widespread use of anti-retroviral drugs.

The fear of contracting the disease or fear of losing life has greatly diminished because the scary sights of near skeletal Aids sufferers have gone underground thanks to these life-prolonging drugs.

The fight against HIV and Aids has not been won yet and if the persistently risky behaviour being practised by some Zimbabweans is not halted, the war maybe lost completely.

Nowadays, many people, especially the most vulnerable many of whom are involved in risky inter-generational relationships no longer fear the disease but they openly brag that they can resort to anti-retroviral treatment if they contract HIV.

The popular saying among young girls who frequent night clubs and growth points soliciting for sex in exchange for money is that “Hazvichatyisa mazuva ano, zvazvinhu izvi ukabatwa nacho unongonwa” which literally means “it’s not such a dreadful thing to get HIV and Aids these days as you can resort to anti-retroviral drugs and life goes on.”

This attitude is dangerous but unfortunately it is spreading like veld fire among many youths in this country.

As the country is making frantic efforts to ensure that there is zero new infections recent revelations of a phenomenal rise in the number of new sexually transmitted illnesses will certainly drain a huge chunk of energy from seasoned anti-Aids campaigners.

If donor fatigue creeps in as shown by reduction in funding of HIV and Aids programmes by the Global Fund, the war might become protracted leading to capitulation of the fighters.

The rate at which ignorance and false comfort is gaining ground as a result of anti-retroviral treatment needs to be tamed, otherwise the ship that the government and its partners thought it had steadied might just go into overdrive.

Only sometime in 2013 a record 10 000 cases of sexually-transmitted illnesses were recorded in Masvingo province in a single month.

More worrying are the number of re-infections and the prevalence of young girls thronging areas like Ngundu and more disturbingly students in tertiary institutions contributing significantly to the rising figures.

Recent reports note that a staggering 45 000 plus people in Harare alone have been treated for sexually-transmitted infections which is a rise of about 8 000 from 2012 to 2013.

This naturally signals a danger warning to responsible authorities.

The rate of infection rose by 22 percent in Harare and the major contributor being reduced condom use mainly due to the enhanced access to anti-retroviral drugs.

This confirms fears that the much-talked about HIV and Aids free generation dream might go up in smoke as more new sexually-transmitted infections are on the rise.

It seems more people are so daring with multiple and concurrent sexual relations sprouting everywhere.

Unless something urgent and revolutionary happens, the country will be in for a shock in the next few years as millions of dollars will be needed to provide healthcare solutions as a result of opportunistic illnesses related to HIV and Aids.

Harare city health boss Prosper Chonzi indicated that the trend is worrying as people are no longer using protection and that most infections are new.

Are we then to conclude that anti-retroviral treatment is a blessing that is fast transforming into an irreversible curse as irresponsible behaviour is on the rise?

The false comfort in the ignorance associated with ARV’s must be demystified now.

Comments (6)

The truth is, the freedom, psychological, physiological and spiritual that accompanies one when they get tested, found positive and start arv's, is more than what any reporter has ever witnessed. Hapana anod akufa vakomana, asi chisingaurayi chii.

Amos Masango - 6 February 2014

So could we say the incarceration of Gumbura is a good thing neh, for if every woman in his church is his, and he alone can loan a woman to her husband while still maintaining certain rights( obviously sexual ) then this man is a lethal transmitter of this dreadful disease, for I would not want to believe that all his congregants are hiv negative. Maybe the judge had this in mind when he prescribed the 40yrs knowing that at 97 the power in his anaconda will have heavily diminished by then.

top heavy - 6 February 2014

Thank you Editor for reminding contributors to refrain from abusing this platform. We have witnessed some very outrageous contributions and it was no longer nice. Social platforms do give us readers the opportunity to interact amongst ourselves as well as with you the newspaper but the security given by the anonymous nature of our contributions lives this platform open to abuse

Mr E - 7 February 2014

Wellington , apa wanyatsonyora , Zimbos are engaging in risky behaviour without any fear . The worrisome thing is that the younger generation is growing up in an environment where having multiple sexual partners is no longer immoral or taboo . Mwari ngaapindire

Gaba - 7 February 2014

Your article is very enlightening a real eye opener...I totally agree with the editor that our dream of An HIV Free Generation is still far from reality due to complacency and ignorance-thats the reality on the ground in Zimbabwe.The thing is people in our days can easily scream kusiri kufa ndekupi without a care its scary and lives alot to be desired.The reason l see the fight against HIV being far from a possibility is the persistence of social traits among many of us that include: adultery (infidelity,promiscuity),ignorance.When it comes to indulging in sex with anyone consider each person capable of being HIV positive till proven otherwise hence protection is key.One cannot tell ones HIV status through physical appearance...all that glitters is not gold.

Masiziba - 7 February 2014

On another note are you saying ARVs are wrong because they are now assisting those who are HIV+ and also becoming an invitation for those who are HIV-? Nobody who tests negative wants to do risk business to be positive my friend those in growth points and bars are either already positive or don't care whether ARVs are there or not.

Maita Manyuka - 10 February 2014

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