Hurungwe District recorded a rapid rise in sexually transmitted Infections (STI’s) in February 2019, a move health experts say is down to the ever increasing rate of unemployment.
By Princess Mapona
Unemployment has forced most people to resort for cheap commercial sex to earn a living. However, the National Aids Council (NAC) have been on the ground conducting a number of awareness and education campaigns in an effort of reduce new STI infections.
Hurungwe District Aids Co-ordination Committee (DACC) covered a large geographical space covering 36 wards with major hotspots with high STI infection and commercial sex work rate such as Magunje Growth Point, the Harare-Chirundu Highway, Chirundu Border Post, Chikuti gold panning area, Lynx Mine and Karoi Urban Centre as these are the areas that have a high concentration of commercial sex business.
Youth Advocacy personnel, Tapiwa Gutu, based in Hurungwe said the issue of STIs in the areas has been a recurring problem.
“The problem of STI’s in Hurungwe particularly in Karoi, has been recurring for years now but recently there has been a spike especially to the teens and young people. I think this is due to the geographical location of the town which is the transit town. I think it is the last town before we reach the border so truck drivers and those who travel to Zambia have to stop in Karoi. I think this is the reason why we always have high figures in terms of STIs,” he said.
In an effort to address the issue, NAC, the relevant ministry, Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and community advocacy groups have been up doing awareness campaigns as well as theatre production as a way of educating people on STIs.
However, Gutu feels the campaigns have had little impact on the small transit towns.
“There have been campaigns that were done by the ministry and NAC trying to curb the problem and we have seen most people going to get tested and get treatment. Since it’s a transit town it’s hard to measure the impact since more will be living and more will be coming.”
Gutu also feels that people should continue to get necessary information on what to do when one infected.
Educate people on what steps to take when they have an STI because we have seen many people going to traditional healers to receive what they call guchu and other stuff. We also need to strengthen our referral systems to partner with other organisations such as Sexier which deals with sex workers and A Man Having Sex With A Man (AMHSAM) in dealing with these issues because they are also affected although not as much comparing to sex workers, adolescence and young people . We also need to educate people on prevention.”