2 January 2018

Zimbabwe: Muslims Top Murewa STIs List, NAC Report Says

At least 3 000 cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are recorded in Murewa annually with the Muslim community among those highly affected, a National Aids Council (NAC) research report shows.

The research, which sought to establish the factors associated with high STIs in the district compared to other surrounding areas, found that the largely relationally closed community was significantly contributing to high infections.

Demographic, social, behavioural, economic and structural issues constituted the framework of the study conducted over a period of five years spanning to 2016.

"The muslims had the highest rate of infection at 73 percent, traditionalists at 67 percent and non-believers at 66 percent. This is significantly high when compared to pentecostals and apostolics at 36 percent and 38 percent respectively," read the report.

The report was presented by NAC monitoring and evaluation officer in Mashonaland East, Edewell Mugariri, at a research dissemination workshop held in Harare recently.

The study also found that those who had primary school education only had a significantly higher rate of STIs as compared to counterparts with advanced education.

"The yield gradually goes down as we move from primary only to secondary without O Level at 47 percent, O Level at 41 percent and A level at 26 percent," said Mugariri.

On dominant professions investigated, sex workers had a significantly higher rate of infection, followed by vendors, farmers at 57, those in piece work and cross border traders while those without were the least affected.

Stakeholders in the HIV and AIDS response are now talking about ending AIDS by 2030. However, Zimbabwe continues to record high new infections.

Health secretary, Gerald Gwinji, in a speech read on his behalf, said it was important to invest in such research so that resources are allocated on relevant interventions.

"It is not possible to arrive at such decisions without employing deliberate enquiry that is grounded in a need for perfection and evidence to prove effectiveness," he said.

Gwinji added, "As you are aware Zimbabwe is a resource constrained country and as such requires appropriate evidence to implement low cost but effective interventions."

At least 1, 3 million people are living with HIV in Zimbabwe. Thousands more contract both curable and incurable STIs every year. Zimbabwe as a country has been emphasising prevention ahead of treatment.

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