Mining Revival Could Worsen HIV/AIDS in Zambia

Authorities fear that the sex workers who are flocking to Zambia's booming Copperbelt could cause an increase in the spread of HIV and other STDs.

Zambia's national prevalence of HIV is 16 nt. The Copperbelt province has a prevalence of 20 percent, second only to the 22 percent prevalence found in Lusaka. The Health Ministry reported that three Copperbelt districts have an HIV prevalence of 26.6 percent.

Concurrent with the doubling of copper mining in the province has been the influx of sex workers, according to the Times of Zambia, though their actual number is not known. "It is likely to worsen the HIV/AIDS scenario of the mining towns, because HIV thrives where there are heightened sexual activities," said Henry Loongo, board secretary of the Copperbelt AIDS Task Force and the regional director for CARE International.

On a good night, one sex worker takes in more than 100,000 kwacha ($30 US) from three clients, the paper said. Sex workers and long-distance truckers are seen as especially high-risk groups. A 2006 survey found female Zambian sex workers are more likely than men to be HIV-positive, and they tend to become infected at younger ages.

The National AIDS Council said the government is responding with sensitization campaigns in the province.