AIDS Kills 500 Times More in Zimbabwe than Poll-Related Violence
March 8, 2002
While about four people have been killed each week in the violence-wracked run-up to Zimbabwe's presidential election, another 2,000 have quietly died of AIDS. With 25 percent of the adult population HIV-positive, Zimbabwe is one of the countries hardest-hit by HIV/AIDS. However, politicians have continued to pay scant attention to the crisis. President Robert Mugabe and his opposition challenger Morgan Tsvangirai have found little time to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic, referring to it in passing during their campaign speeches while concentrating their energies on trading verbal attacks.Adapted from:
UNAIDS said at least 1.5 million people in Zimbabwe were infected by HIV/AIDS in 1999 out of a total national population of 12 million. Of those, 160,000 died of the disease that year. In an attempt to convey the magnitude of the AIDS crisis in Zimbabwe, Health Minister Timothy Stamps has used the image of three jumbo jets crashing each week. Stamps predicted that Zimbabwe would by this year experience zero population growth, mainly because of the AIDS pandemic.
Both major parties have a policy on HIV/AIDS, but it is slotted in towards the end of their manifestos. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it "recognizes the disastrous impact the AIDS pandemic is having on ordinary Zimbabweans and will commit substantial investment to policy solutions aimed at tackling this pandemic." Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) says "HIV/AIDS is a national disaster" and vows to "continue to invest in preventive and promotive health services."
The onslaught of AIDS has dented Zimbabwe's economic growth because of increased medical costs and reduced household and national incomes due to illnesses and deaths of workers. AIDS in the farming sector was two years ago predicted to threaten the country's food security. By then, it had already reduced the country's production of staple food crops by as much as 60 percent, according to Kerry Kay, an AIDS consultant for the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU). This year, Zimbabwe is suffering one of the worst staple food shortages in living memory.
The winner of this weekend's election will be expected to lead the country out of its woes over the next six years.
Agence France Presse
03.05.02; Susan Njanji
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.