Sexual Violence Leads to High HIV Infection Rates in Zimbabwe
August 24, 2005
Sexual violence and cross-generational sex have led to a high HIV infection rate among young women in Zimbabwe, which lacks large-scale programs to address the problem, according to a January-May 2005 study conducted by Population Services International and the African Union and released Friday.
In studies conducted between 1998 and 2000 in the rural Manicaland province, HIV prevalence was 3 percent among 15-year-old girls, 1 percent among 17-year-old girls, and 40 percent among women ages 25-29. That contrasted with a 15 percent prevalence among men ages 25-29.
Among clients ages 15-19 attending the New Start HIV testing center in 2003, 1 percent of men and 5 percent of women were HIV-positive. Among clients ages 20-24, the rates were 9 and 22 percent, respectively.
"We have noticed that women are powerless when it comes to AIDS prevention because of their dependence on their male counterparts," said Mary Sandasi, director of the Women and AIDS Support Network. "In most cases women look up to men for financial support and that puts them at risk of contracting the virus."
Sandasi said her group feels there is a need to teach women to become self-dependent. In addition, the network is in talks to get price breaks from female-condom manufacturers. "We are trying to lobby authorities to make the female condom, which is currently beyond the reach of many local women, cheaper and readily available for everyone who needs them," she said.
Xinhua News Agency
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.