HIV and Aids is not only peculiar to Midlands State University, as all tertiary institutions across the country face the same challenges posing a greater risk for students to contract HIV, parliamentary portfolio committee on Health and Child Care chairperson Dr Ruth Labode has said. Addressing students from MSU's Zvishavane campus during a National Aids Council organised legislators' visit last Friday, Dr Labode said national statistics showed that all youths between ages of 15 and 24 were at higher risk of getting HIV.
"Your challenges are the same as those that are faced by youths of your age groups elsewhere in the country and MSU is not worse off than any other university," she said. "Statistics show us that HIV prevalence is high among youths of 15 to 24 age groups. It is a national problem that we have to deal with."
Dr Labode's comments came after the students expressed concern to the legislators on how their university had been soiled in the media for allegedly nurturing students with loose morals and a high HIV prevalence rate.
The students said the negative publicity hindered their prospects of getting internship, as well as permanent employment as students from other universities get first preference.
"Our name has been soiled, said one of the students who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"We are portrayed as the worst university in the country harbouring students of loose morals. MSU is also portrayed as the hardest hit by HIV and Aids and yet we do not hear statistics from other universities.
"This affects our career development as employers prefer students from other universities ahead of us for attachment, further impacting on our chances of getting permanent employment."
MSU Zvishavane campus director Professor Advice Viriri said MSU students were not worse off than any other students in the country with regards to morality and their risk to HIV and Aids.
Professor Viriri said most of the times, other youths posed as MSU students, especially females, because they were more marketable in sex work compared to any other sex workers.