Key populations source of new HIV infections: NAC


THE National Aids Council of Zimbabwe (NAC) has identified the country’s key populations such as commercial sex workers, bisexual and the transgender community as fueling the spread of HIV and Aids.


NAC Bulawayo provincial manager, Sinatra Nyathi told Southern Eye at the just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair that research has established that key populations were more vulnerable to new infections, adding that these groups required more awareness programmes to suppress the spread of the virus.

“We have realised that most infections come from the key populations which include sex workers, the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBTI) community, young people, adolescent girls and young women. Our data shows that we get the highest infections from men above age 29 and in young girls it comes from the age mixing where younger girls are going for older men who have huge sexual mileage,” she said.

Nyathi said adolescents were participating at vuzu parties where they indulged in risky behaviour which made them vulnerable to infection.

“Adolescent boys and girls indulge in vuzu parties where they indulge in sex races and drugs and they end up not using condoms due to the influence of substance abuse. We also have a challenge of child-headed families where children especially girls who end up getting into child sex work, due to poverty.

“We should raise more awareness on the subject to ensure people who are HIV positive adhere to treatment and young people who are HIV negative should protect themselves from getting infected to avoid having new HIV infections.”

Nyathi urged Zimbabweans to identify risks and protect themselves and avoid being infected.

“We have pre-exposure prophylaxis (PREP) so if you know you are at risk of getting infected, you can be put on those drugs and maintain a negative status,” she added.

Nyathi, however, said the country was still within its target to reduce fresh new HIV infections by 90% before the year 2030.