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International News

About 50 Percent of Zimbabwe Soldiers HIV-Positive: Report

January 2, 2003

The non-governmental agency Southern Africa HIV/AIDS Information Dissemination Service says that HIV/AIDS is prevalent among Zimbabwe's soldiers, outpacing the epidemic in Zimbabwe's general public, according to the Inter Africa News Agency. SAHID estimated that 50 percent of Zimbabwe's soldiers are HIV-infected, compared with 25 percent of the general adult population.

Zimbabwe has one of the highest incidences of HIV in southern Africa, with an estimated 2,000 people dying of the disease every week. The government has introduced an AIDS levy aimed at cushioning the suffering of people living with AIDS.

The NGO reported that in many African countries HIV/AIDS prevalence averages 20-40 percent among soldiers, reaching as high as 50-60 percent in countries in which the disease has been present for more than a decade. "Widespread illness in the ranks threatens the ability of the military to respond to external threats or to fulfill its other functions," SAHID reported. "The increase of death in war means that soldiers and civilians may be more willing to engage in risky sexual activities." Where stress, boredom and alcohol use may be high, the soldiers are accustomed to taking risks and may be reluctant to use condoms.

"This obviously has serious repercussions on military preparedness and functioning, individual soldiers, their families and the civilian populace with whom they interact," the NGO said. Several obstacles that had been noted in tackling HIV/AIDS among soldiers include, among others, inadequate funding, a risk-taking culture and restricted access to information.

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Adapted from:
Xinhua News Agency

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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.
See Also
More on HIV/AIDS Rates in Zimbabwe