SMALL DISTRICT BIG IN HIV
Umzingwane infection rates puzzle health minister
THE Ministry of Health and Child Care has been baffled by recent statistics showing that Umzingwane District in Matabeleland South province has the highest HIV and STI rates in the country, forcing authorities to conduct a study to end the mystery.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said such high rates are expected in border towns, and they have no answer for the latest development.
The Minister also expressed concern over the high number of women testing positive for cervical cancer at Filabusi District Hospital, 21 percent compared to an average of 10 percent in other districts.
Dr Parirenyatwa last week toured Filabusi and Esigodini District Hospitals and said it was worrying to record high rates of HIV, STIs in districts that are not along the country’s borders.
“Umzingwane is one of the smallest districts in the country but has the highest STI and HIV rate. The district’s TB rate is also the highest in the country. It’s worrying and we want to know why it’s happening because the district is in the middle of nowhere, not in a border town.
“We therefore want to conduct a study that will unearth the reasons why this district is seriously affected by HIV and STIs. We will then map the way forward once the results are out,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
He said the Ministry had identified the main groups: young people between the ages of 16 and 25 where there is a 21 percent prevalence rate yet the national rate is at 15 percent; sex workers who recorded over 30 percent while the prisons have recorded 28 percent and long distance truck drivers who also recorded 28 percent.
“However, there’s also a high distribution of HIV among people in border towns such as Plumtree, Beitbridge and Victoria Falls. But for Umzingwane we need to seriously find out why HIV and STIs are prevalent,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
He commended the cancer screening unit at Filabusi District Hospital but expressed concern over the high number of women who were testing positive for cervical cancer.
“The Viac unit is doing very well, I’m impressed. What worried me was the number of women that were testing positive for cervical cancer. The rate is at 21 percent while the rest of the population is at 10 percent. It’s worrying. It’s important for us to find out why this is happening in these areas,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.— @pamelashumba1.
Dr David Parirenyatwa