Nku­lumane, Mag­wegwe named Byo’s HIV hotspots

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Than­deka Moyo

MAG­WEGWE and Nku­lumane sub­urbs, in­clud­ing the peri-ur­ban Robert Sinyoka Vil­lage have been iden­ti­fied as Bu­l­awayo’s HIV hotspots, where the high­est num­bers of in­fected ju­ve­niles are found.

A pro­gramme, De­ter­mined, Re­silient, Em­pow­ered, Aids free, Men­tored and Safe Women (Dreams), tar­geted at pro­mot­ing be­havioural change in ado­les­cents will be im­ple­mented in the ar­eas as a counter-mea­sure.

Dreams was launched in May this year in Zim­babwe.

Ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics from the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO), young women and girls ac­count for 75 per­cent of new HIV in­fec­tions among ado­les­cents in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa.

Na­tional Aids Coun­cil (Nac) Bu­l­awayo pro­vin­cial co­or­di­na­tor Mrs Si­na­tra Ny­athi said the three ar­eas pre­sented the most risk to young women in the city.

An HIV and Aids hotspot is a ge­o­graph­i­cal area or lo­ca­tion with ev­i­dence of high preva­lence of HIV, STIs or be­hav­iours that put peo­ple at risk of ac­quir­ing HIV in­fec­tion, ac­cord­ing to WHO.

Speak­ing at a Dreams tour yes­ter­day at Eve­line High School, Mrs Ny­athi said the pro­gramme had been ef­fec­tive in reach­ing out to ado­les­cents.

“Sta­tis­tics show that ado­les­cents drive most HIV new in­fec­tions in the coun­try hence the need to tar­get this age group in pro­gram­ming. Dreams aims to re­duce the num­ber of new in­fec­tions among ado­les­cents by 40 per­cent in 2017,” said Mrs Ny­athi.

“The ado­les­cent girls and young women aged be­tween 15 and 25 and a sub­pop­u­la­tion of vul­ner­a­ble girls aged 10-14 will re­ceive a lay­ered pack­age of ser­vices un­der Dreams which in­cludes ac­cess to fam­ily plan­ning ser­vices, so­cial pro­tec­tion and pre- ex­po­sure pro­phy­laxis.”

Mrs Ny­athi said eco­nomic strength­en­ing, par­ent­ing and gen­der-based vi­o­lence pre­ven­tion were also part of the ser­vices of­fered to re­duce HIV in­ci­dence in young women.

The Eve­line Dreams club has started poul­try, gar­den­ing, arts and craft projects as a way of em­pow­er­ing them­selves.

“We de­cided to take charge of our lives and bring an end to bad re­ports about Eve­line pupils who are known for en­gag­ing in all sorts of sex­ual ac­tiv­i­ties in Bu­l­awayo.

“With Dreams be­ing im­ple­mented, we now have a chance to em­power our­selves eco­nom­i­cally and use our spare time on use­ful things in­stead of mis­chief,” said a pupil in a poem pre­sented to the Dream part­ners and spon­sors.

The girls have so far raised money to pay fees for a dis­ad­van­taged O-Level can­di­date and the rest of it goes into buy­ing san­i­tary wear for needy pupils.

Bu­l­awayo is one of the six ar­eas where the Dreams pro­gramme is be­ing im­ple­mented and Nac es­ti­mates that the city’s HIV preva­lence is at 20 per­cent, above the na­tional av­er­age of 15. — @ thamamoe

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