By Sibongile Maruta
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are on the rise in Shamva district largely due to apathy, unprotected sex and multiple partners.
Speaking to The Herald on Monday, National Aids Council (NAC) district AIDS coordinator Mr Sharpard Zanamwe said sexual violence was the major drivere of the rise in STIs.
“The high prevalence of sexual violence, which is mainly perpetrated on the girl child, is contributing to an increase in the number of STI cases,” he said.
“We have a problem of HIV, but the major problem is STIs.
“Females are the ones who are mostly affected because they are vulnerable to sexual violence. Sexual violence is sometimes caused by relatives, and most families find it hard to report such cases.”
Mr Zanamwe said they were also concerned that the boy child should not be left behind and were working at introducing the brother-to-brother initiative to equip them with knowledge on sexual reproductive health and HIV among others.
Mr Zanamwe said Shamva district is rated as a medium-to-high risk zone for HIV, with several hotspots due to mining activities.
“The HIV prevalence rate is 12,3 percent according to 2017 national estimates,” he said.
“We have an estimated population of about 16 647 people living with HIV according to data availed by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Our antiretroviral treatment coverage in terms of adults is 87 percent and in children it is 108 percent according to 2017 national estimates.”
Mr Zanamwe said the parent-to-child communication and the sister-to-sister programmes came about due to the high burden of HIV on the girl child.
Ms Naume Chikanda (37) from Shamva said youths and adolescents lacked knowledge on sexual reproductive health and HIV, leading to easy infection.
“A high rate of STIs is mostly affecting youths and adolescents,” she said.
“And I believe that it is caused by lack of knowledge by these youths. Small-scale miners are also drivers of the spread of STIs in our district.
“Some engage in sexual activities without protection.
“It is sad that some innocent children are victims of sexual violence, and these are some of the challenges we are facing as a district,” she said.