By Mariam Nassaka
The latest HIV/Aids statistics in Zimbabwe show that the prevalence rate is still very high at 15% as in 2014, whilst in the same year condom usage was reported to have been 104 million male, and 5.2 million female condoms – the highest in the world.
So the question is: why is the prevalence rate still so high in Zimbabwe?
Obviously, this question can never be adequately answered without a nearly impossible thorough investigation, but there is always room for debate and discussion on the matter, by using current information regarding condom use and HIV/Aids prevention.
In their report entitled ‘Condom Promotion for Aids Prevention in the Developing World: Is it working?’, Norman Hearst, a professor at the University of California, and Sanny Chen, an epidemiologist with the San Francisco Department of Health, aptly said that ‘measuring condom efficacy is nearly impossible’, although 90% is commonly accepted.
They further stated that 90% efficacy could not be enough for condoms to be considered as an effective means in Aids prevention.
They noted that, ‘in many sub-Saharan African countries high HIV transmission rates have continued despite high rates of condom use’, Zimbabwe being a very good example.
The report said that ‘no clear examples have emerged yet of a country that has turned back a generalised epidermic primarily by means of condom promotion’.
This is disturbing in light of the over-emphasis on condom use as an effective measure in the prevention of HIV/Aids that has taken root in most campaigns in this country, and indeed, the rest if the Southern African region.
The slogan of ‘condomising’ has reached obscene levels, with even suggestions of placing condoms in schools being debated.
Are we callous with our children’s lives that we are prepared to mislead them into their own graves?
If we ourselves as parents are not concerned about our own lives, that is no reason to destroy our children with us.
The message of HIV/Aids should be honestly and clearly told to our children, so that they may make informed decisions about their own lives.
Actually, it is widely accepted that Uganda’s earlier success story in their HIV/Aids prevention campaigns where premised on their focus on delayed sexual activity among adolescents, promotion of abstinence, and encouraging faithfulness to a single partner, and very minimal emphasis on condom use.
Zambia and Tanzania’s reduction of HIV prevalence in pregnant women has been largely credited to the reduction in the numbers in sexual partners.
The British Medical Journal of April 10 2004, stated that ‘it seems obvious, but there would be no global Aids pandemic were it not for multiple sexual partnerships’, published in an article entitled ‘Partner reduction is critical for balanced ‘ABC’ approach to HIV prevention’.
The article doubted the wisdom of the promotion of condom use above mutual fidelity and partner reduction.
Writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dr. Joe Mcllhaney Jr. the president of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, Austin, Texas, noted that the consequences of relying on condoms could be grave, saying that, ‘based on the science and the science alone, there is only one conclusion: condoms do not make sex safe enough’.
He further stated that while condoms could reduce some risks, they still often left individuals vulnerable to infection.
A report to the United Stated of America (US) Congress by the federal Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by its Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said that the best way to avoid HPV (a sexually transmitted virus linked to cervical cancer and commonly associated with HIV) was by having only one uninfected partner.
She went on to say that most studies had shown that condoms did not prevent the spread of HPV.
Helen Epstein, a visiting research scholar at the Centre for Health and Wellness at Princeton University, said that efforts aimed at stopping the spread of HIV had had disappointing results because of ignoring fidelity, by promoting condom use, and that this ‘may well have undermined efforts to fight the epidermic’.
She bemoaned the fact that ‘government planning documents, United Nations agency reports, Aids awareness campaigns, and Aids education curriculum are strangely silent on the subject (of fidelity)’.
This all says a lot about Zimbabwe’s own HIV/Aids prevention strategy, which has been nothing short of suicidal, as the emphasis on condom use has been over-glorified.
The nation, especially the youth, need to be made aware that condoms are not as effective as they have been made to appear.
The fact of the matter is that HIV/Aids is a multi-billion dollar business for most organisations and companies, and the money racked in from condom production, ARV sales, and even NGOs involved in HIV/Aids can only be sustained by the continued peddling of this fallacy that condomising is the best way to go.
An ‘Aids-free’ world would not be good for business.
The truth is that people can be educated, as witnessed by the huge uptake of the condom usage message that our country has been selling for years – albeit without any significant reduction in HIV prevalence rates.
Therefore, if the nation can easily take up such a message, why are we not focussing on abstinence and faithfulness as the primary message of the campaign against HIV/Aids?
Judging from how the Ebola message and the seriousness in which it was handled by East African countries, with the assistance of the global community, I have no doubt that if Zimbabwe – with the combined efforts of other nations – applied the same seriousness to the prevention of HIV/Aids, this region could soon be declared ‘Aids-free’.
° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a community activist, communications specialist, journalist, and writer. He writes in his personal capacity. He welcomes and appreciated feedback. Please feel free to call/WhatsApp:+263782283975, or email: [email protected]
“One of the best ways to fight stigma and empower HIV positive people is by speaking out openly and honestly about who we are and what we experience.”
~ Alex Garner, HIV Activist ~
We live in a globe of stigma and intolerance, too often, coming out to say your status is met with anger, criticism, and possibly even hostility. The most common emotion that people experience upon learning that they are HIV positive is shame. It is a critical and paralyzing emotion that has no advantages and serves no purpose. Speaking out is one of the best remedy to shame. When people speak openly and boldly about their HIV status, we can find genuineness and empowerment that can help to foster a stronger and healthier society.
World AIDS day is celebrated every year all over the world on 1st of December to raise the public awareness about AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). AIDS is a pandemic caused due to the infection of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The day is celebrated by the government organisations, NGOs, civil societies and other health institutions, dedicated to commemorate those who have passed on and to raise awareness about AIDS and the global spread of the HIV virus.
The first World AIDS Day was held in 1988 after health ministers from around the world met in London, England and agreed to such a day as a way of highlighting the enormity of the AIDS pandemic and nations’ responsibility to ensure universal treatment, care and support for people living with HIV and AIDS.
The World Assembly of Youth (WAY) aspires to continue encouraging all members to organise programmes to combat the causes of AIDS pandemics and other deadly diseases. We prioritise in bringing awareness about the HIV/AIDS issue to the youth globally. In 2006, WAY published a book entitled ‘World Responses to HIV/AIDS Pandemic’ available at the following link: http://www.way.org.my/books/category/world-responses-to-hiv-aids-pandemic.
We believe it is the opportunity for young people to work actively and collaboratively with partners and other stakeholders around the world to raise awareness about HIV and help us move closer to the goal of an AIDS-free generation.
Happy World AIDS Day!
This World AIDS Day UNICEF is pleased to share with you our annual Statistical Update on the situation of Children, Adolescents and AIDS.
As the MDG’s draw to a close, we have successes to celebrate. We took the time to look back 15 years and captured a snapshot of what has been collectively accomplished in PMTCT since 2000. Footage was pulled from UNICEF archives, or contributed by partners. You might even find yourself in there. Please share widely!
Ours is a history in which the world worked together to make a miracle happen.
WATCH: https://goo.gl/O7lVxd #AIDSFreeGen #WAD2015
In addition our regular www.childrenandaids.org website includes:
· Executive Summary
· Key Charts & Infographics
· Statistical Tables
· Global Charts & Figures
· Regional Charts & Figures
o Eastern and Southern Africa
o West and Central Africa
o Middle East and North Africa
o East Asia and the Pacific
o South Asia
o Latin America and the Caribbean
Kenya has launched a new technology to enable it track progress and identify gaps in HIV programming in the country.Dubbed the Kenya HIV Situation Room, the technology is set to enable quick feedback on results at both the county and community levels and identify any bottlenecks and access issues.The technology is also expected to speed up and streamline communications between policy-makers and implementers.
ALL IN to #EndAdolescentAIDS launched February 17, 2015 from Nairobi, Kenya with an audience of distinguished delegates from Kenya and around the world, including President Uhuru Kenyatta. Adolescents also arrived in the hundreds.
Explore highlights from the event’s key sessions and statements from global leaders:
MTV Staying Alive Foundation presents Shuga
We are also pleased to unveil the new ALL IN web portal.
Please also find key supporting materials and information here, including:
Be part of ALL IN! Join the conversation:
When we talk in discussions and conferences on women empowerment we mainly discuss the economic benefits of empowering women however when the social aspects are discussed little is said about empowerment being a way of reducing the HIV/AIDS spread. As the title suggests, this article is about how empowering women will reduce the spread and vulnerability of getting infected among women as well as men.
To begin with, women’s economic dependence increases their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. Most women and girls opt to get into other means of earning a livelihood like prostitution due to lack of finances to sustain themselves. In prostitution, women hardly get the opportunity to negotiate for safe sex which thus exposes them to a high risk of sexually transmitted diseases and emotional distress.
Most African societies have always and still practise wife inheritance. A woman who depended on her husband will have no choice but accept being inherited so that she can have someone to take care of her and her children. If the dead husband or incoming husband is infected with HIV/AIDS then this will further increase the chances of the spread of the virus.
Secondly, a woman who is not empowered lacks the sense of assertiveness that would make it easy for her to decline sexual advances from men without fearing to provoke the man. Violence against women has been a major factor in the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls especially sexual violence perpetuated by infected men. According to researchers Heise, Ellsberg and Gottemoeller, in population-based studies conducted worldwide, anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of women report physical assault by partner and one third to half of physically abused women also report sexual coercion. (Geeta Rao Gupta, International Centre for Research on Women)
Thirdly, many societies have a culture that considers it taboo to openly address issues of sexuality which results in many women being ignorant about safe sex practises. Further, under these cultural norms and practises women have no or less power in matters of sex leaving all the power with the male partners who dictate the when and how of sex. This deters women from being informed about the risks involved in sex and their preventive measures; even when they are informed they are unable to negotiate for safe sex due to existing power relations that are influenced by the patriarchal system in these societies.
Finally virginity, something women are still expected to uphold in many societies until marriage, is also a factor which contributes to the ignorance that surrounds sexuality and thus aid the spread of HIV/AIDS. This societal expectation holds girls from seeking relevant information on sex lest they be considered sexually active. This ultimately means girls grow up well into young adults without the right information on safe sex and in most cases with distorted notions and beliefs on sexuality. When they finally become sexually active, because they are not well informed, they are not in a position and do have the courage to say no to sexual advances or report cases of rape when they happen. They may thus get infected with HIV/AIDS.
Women empowerment enhances financial stability among women so that they are able to take care of themselves reducing the need for such practises like prostitution and wife inheritance. The empowered woman not only has the power to make assertive decisions but also has multiple options and the freedom to choose the kind of life she wants to lead. She can also assert herself in any sexual relationship she gets into with the power to negotiate for safe sex, when and how to engage in sex without any fear of violence or reprimands.
Further, a comprehensive sex education need to be introduced and actively implemented in all societal institutions like mainstream educational institutions at all levels, churches, open public forums and open discussions encouraged within households. This education should focus on both girls and boys and should focus on such things as the risks involved in unsafe sexual activities, the proper use of contraceptives and HIV/AIDS.