Women bear brunt of HIV

HARARE - At least 16 out of every 100 sexually-active women aged between 15 and 49 are HIV positive, government has revealed.

Mutsa Mhangara, the strategic Aids coordinator in the ministry of Health said these were the latest findings of the major report, the Ante-Natal Care (ANC) Sentinel Surveillance, used in analysing HIV trends in the country.

“In the age group of 15 to 49, we realised that the HIV prevalence among pregnant women was 16 in every hundred women who were approaching our clinics for the first time,” said Mhangara during the launch of three new information technology systems by the ministry in Harare yesterday.

He added: “In terms of women who are between the ages of 15 to 24, 10 in every 100 women were actually HIV positive. The figures are high but what is encouraging is that the trend is showing a decrease in cases.”

In 2002, the prevalence in the 15 to 49 age group was 25,7 percent and now it is 15,9 percent while in the younger age group stands at 9,85 percent from 29,6 percent.

“But looking at provinces, we realised that Matabeleland South had the highest number of pregnant women who are HIV positive, with 24 per every 100 and the least was Harare with 11 women out of 100,” he said.

The biannual survey focuses on pregnant women (being obviously sexually active). About 54 health institutions, with between 330 and 550 participants took part in the 2012 survey.

About 1,38 million are now living with HIV, from a 2013 government report with women who constitute 52 percent of the 13 million people in Zimbabwe bearing the brunt the most.

Head of the Aids and Tuberculosis Unit in the ministry, Owen Mugurungi, said although the national prevalence rate remains at 15 percent, the rate of new HIV infections remains high.

“Our HIV prevalence is showing signs of stabilisation. Although we continue to see an improvement on new HIV infections, we do not really think there will be dramatic changes in that area because we also need to keep those infected alive.

“The incidence every year is now estimated at 0,92 percent which translates to about 57 000 new HIV infections,” said Mugurungi adding that, “We still have a long way to go. We still need to bring that figure to zero.”

HIV-related deaths came down from 140 000 before the introduction of anti-retroviral treatment (ART) to 64 000.

“We still need to beef up our efforts to bring that figure to zero,” he said after acknowledging the efforts.

Before the introduction of new ART guidelines which require HIV positive people be initiated at a CD4 count of 500 this year, Zimbabwe had reached 86 percent of people in need of treatment.

“We had 806 000 people in need of ARVs by end of 2013. Around 114 000 are children and 70 000 mothers are in need of PMTCT. ART coverage slightly came down to 77 percent because of the new guidelines,” he said.

The number of children orphaned because of HIV-related illnesses is now 900 000.

In terms of urban prevalence, Bulawayo has the highest prevalence. In rural provinces, Matabeleland South has the highest and Masvingo has the least.

Comments (1)

The church has a large role to play in encouraging people to get married as Almighty God covers this part so much in his book of life, the bible teaches about refraining from sexual immorality, fornication, rebukes prostitution. The aids awareness campaign must be stepped up as it is now on the low.

tichaona - 6 June 2014

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