MIDLANDS State University students’ reckless sexual behaviour has been singled out as the major driver of the sharp increase in the province’s HIV prevalence that shot up from last year’s 20 to 23 percent this year.
Speaking to Midlands medical practitioners and district administrators during the official launch of the Southern African Aids Trust’s (SAAT) strategic plan for 2015-18, National Aids Council Midlands provincial co-ordinator, Mr Mambewu Shumba, said HIV prevalence rate shot up due to the “generous” sexual behaviour of the students at MSU.
According to official figures, MSU has an enrolment of 23 000 students and the figure has been surging steadily. Mr Shumba said the emergence of sugar daddies and mummies who had descended on the institution, had also fed into the upsurge in HIV prevalence.
“MSU has brought about a new sexual behaviour change in Gweru. We are now seeing old people engaging in sexual relationships with students at the college and that had been attributed to the rise in HIV prevalence rate,” he said.
Mr Shumba said Gweru recorded 6 727 sexually transmitted infections cases this year, up from 5 814 in 2013.
However, MSU acting director of information and public relations Ms Mirirai Mawere, disputed that the university was the major contributor of the increase in HIV prevalence in Gweru.
“We need to know how they came up with such a conclusion. If it is a research, we need to see it. As far as I am concerned, there is nothing like that. You need to put your questions in writing so that I respond accordingly,” said Ms Mawere.
However, in his presentation Mr Shumba said the province had been allocated $500 000 to undertake HIV and Aids programmes.
He said this year’s programmes would be different from the past interventions as they were now conscious of the districts’ specific needs.
SAAT in Zimbabwe country director Ms Roselyn Dete, attributed the high rate of maternal deaths in Zimbabwe to teenage pregnancies and increasing rape cases.
She said Zimbabwe had recorded an alarming 960 maternal deaths per 100 000 births and was number 14 worst countries in the world in terms of maternity mortality rate.
“We had to work on a new strategy because of the evident maternal health situation in our country. We are all aware that maternal mortality rate in the country is high though the figures vary. We recorded 960 deaths per 100 000 births in the country. That puts the Zimbabwe at number 14 worst countries in terms of maternal births,” he said.
Mrs Dete said the dire situation was being worsened by the increasing rape cases and teenage pregnancies.
“We cannot afford such maternal deaths in the country. Some maternal deaths are caused by teenage pregnancies and rape. Some rural women do not have access to health facilities, for example the Doma people in Mbire have no access to health facilities, education and other basic social services,” she said.
Police Deputy Commissioner Human Resources, Levi Sibanda, recently said rape cases in the country had increased by 16 percent in 2014 compared to 2013.
Deputy Commissioner Sibanda called on the judiciary to increase the mandatory sentence for rape to over 40 years from nine years in the wake of increasing rape cases most of which are of minors in the country.