ALL SET FOR WORLD AIDS DAY
THE country will on Thursday join the rest of the world to commemorate World Aids Day at a time adolescents and young women are on the spotlight, in the wake of reports that new HIV infections are high among these groups.
Kwekwe will this year play host to this national event which is being held under the theme; Closing The Tap on New HIV Infections.
Kwekwe has an HIV prevalence rate of more than 20 percent, higher than the national prevalence according to National Aids Council (NAC).
NAC communications officer Tadiwa Nyatanga-Pfupa said together with implementing partners, they have throughout the year focused more on adolescents and young women amid the reports of a high prevalence rate among these groups.
“As we commemorate World Aids Day, our emphasis is on closing the tap on new infections and we continue targeting groups that have been found to be driving new infections.
“NAC and implementing partners are working on reducing gender based violence and empowering sex workers with information so that they can insist on condom use as we accelerate efforts to close the tap on new HIV infections particularly between the ages of 15-24 years,” she said.
Pfupa noted with concern how young sex workers were on the increase adding that this group had challenges when it comes to negotiating for safe sex.
WAD comes at a time when the country has already domesticated its efforts to eliminate HIV in newborns, ensure that they stay free throughout their adolescence stage thereby being AIDS free.
Dubbed Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free, the framework also seek to ensure that all those born with HIV are initiated early on treatment thereby staying AIDs free.
Commenting on the high HIV prevalence rate in Kwekwe, she said gold panning and rampant sex work activities were the major drivers of the epidemic in the town.
“Gold panning has been the major attraction in the Midlands town which has seen a rise in sex work activities in that area. Kwekwe being along the highway and a transit town also surrounded by drought stricken areas has seen an acute rise in sex work activities. ”
Meanwhile she said a variety of activities have been lined up for the event that is expected to bring the mining town of Kwekwe alive as they work towards ending AIDS.
“We have a number of activities lined up, among them the Candlelight Memorial as well as HIV prevention awareness campaigns around the city of Kwekwe,” she said.
“Kwekwe district has the highest number of new HIV infections in Zimbabwe, after Mutare, with an incidence rate of 1, 2 percent.
“With a prevalence rate of 20, 9 percent, which is above the national average, the city has the highest HIV prevalence in the province, after Gweru,” Pfupa reiterated noting that this made Kwekwe a strategic venue.
World Aids Day is observed on the 1st of December each year, as part of efforts to increase awareness of the AIDS pandemic.
The event is hosted annually on a rotational basis across the country’s 10 provinces.