The Herald (Harare)

16 September 2011

Zimbabwe: HIV - Survey Reveals Women Most Affected

WOMEN account for more than 60 percent of the 1,2 million people living with HIV and Aids in Zimbabwe, a recent survey has revealed.

The survey, contained in a report titled: "Know your Epidemic - Know your Response", indicated that only 20 percent of the adult population knew their HIV status.

The survey was conducted by the Ministry of Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development in conjunction with the National Aids Council and other partners.

"Women and girls comprise 62 percent of people living with HIV (PLHIV)," the survey revealed.

"The consequences of living with HIV and burden of care are severe for women and girls as they have both social and economic implications."

The Minister of Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Dr Olivia Muchena, confirmed the results of the survey yesterday.

She said there were several factors causing women to be the most affected by the pandemic.

Cde Muchena was speaking at the launch of the Zimbabwe Agenda for the Accelerated Country Action of Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV (ZAACA) 2011-2015.

"Zimbabwe has managed to maintain a steady decline of the HIV prevalence over the past years from 32 percent in 2003 to the current 14, 2 percent," she said.

"However, in spite of this great achievement, women continue to account for 60 percent of the people living with HIV.

"The Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development in conjunction with National Aids Council conducted a Know Your Epidemic/Know Your Response survey and identified the modes of transmission among women."

Cde Muchena said the study identified several socio-economic, cultural and religious factors that increase women's vulnerability to HIV. She said several factors militated against women and girls with regard to addressing HIV.

Cde Muchena said stigma and discrimination associated with an HIV positive status and fear of violence from partners deterred women from acting on prevention and treatment information.

"A lot of potential recipients have failed to access services such as HIV counselling and testing as well as prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission on such grounds," she said.

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