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NATIONAL AIDS Council (NAC) says community based organisations should be allowed to conduct HIV and AIDS awareness campaigns as this would help to reduce infections.
Community based organisations always complain that the state uses the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) to bar them from holding public meetings.
The call by NAC comes after they have witnessed an increase in STIs in Harare’s Epworth, Caledonia and Hopely high density suburbs.
These are some of many shanty suburbs in Harare where people live in squalid conditions and practice unprotected sex due to lack of information.
Generally, a person who contracts an STI has a great risk of getting HIV infection.
NAC’s Lloyd Sanandima told an HIV and AIDS information dissemination meeting which was held by MISA Zimbabwe and Community Radio Harare (CORAH) at Tariro School in Hopely at the weekend, that new infections were rife in such settlements.
“In the last quarter of 2014, we recorded 598 STI infections in males, 721 females, and repeated cases were 46 and 74 respectively and we have observed that a lot of people are not getting tested for STIs,” said Sinadima.
“There is high risk sexual behaviour happening here. When we do our behaviour change programs we discover that girls as young as 14 years are indulging in sexual activities with some even having children at that age”.
Sinandima said condom use was very low in Hopely and said churches, schools and social gatherings should be allowed to teach behaviour change in areas of their jurisdiction.
“There is a lot of unprotected sex happening and if this is not controlled Hopely will soon become one of the hot spots and we are therefore encouraging AIDS organisations to have more awareness campaigns so that Hopely does not explode.
“There is also a challenge of pregnant mothers delaying to book their pregnancies which is a major concern to us.
“832 pregnant women were tested for HIV in 2014 and out of that number 110 tested positive meaning to say one in every eight women is HIV positive”. source-newzimbabwe