Guardian Examines Spread of HIV in Northern Zambia's Lake Mweru Region
January 10, 2006
London's Guardian on Saturday examined the spread of HIV in the region surrounding northern Zambia's Lake Mweru, which in recent years has seen an influx of young men who have migrated to the region to start fishing. Although the area was sparsely populated 30 years ago, the closure of Zambian copper mines, increasing poverty and conflict in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo have contributed to the region's recent population growth. The area's increasing population and the resulting towns and villages also have drawn poor women to the area to work as commercial sex workers. Men and women who come to the area from many countries -- including Zimbabwe, South Africa, Nigeria, Malawi and the D.R.C. -- form "temporary marriages" that contribute to the spread of the virus in the community, the Guardian reports. In addition, although condoms have been promoted in recent years, local beliefs hinder their widespread use, according to the Guardian. In Nchelenge, the largest of the lakeside towns, the adult HIV-prevalence rate is estimated to be 25%, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres, which began operations in the town in 2001. Of the nearly 10,000 estimated HIV-positive people in the region surrounding Lake Mweru, MSF has provided 350 with access to antiretroviral drugs (Vidal, Guardian, 1/7).
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