STIs increase, worry health experts

HEALTH experts have expressed concern over an upsurge in cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among women around the country, especially in Masvingo province.

BY PHYLLIS MBANJE

National Aids Council (NAC), said Masvingo province recorded at least 11 342 cases of STIs from June to September this year, up from 10 113 that were reported between April and June.

Masvingo Provincial NAC coordinator, Evos Makoni said the council, in conjunction with the Zimbabwe National Farming Planning (ZNFPC), were scaling up activities to prevent further infections.

Unconfirmed reports say incidences of STIs were caused by some desperate students in different colleges and universities in Masvingo, who were indulging in reckless sexual behaviour in order to make a living under the current economic hardships.

Makoni said NAC, together with other development partners, were intensifying intervention programmes on behavioural change communication (BCC) to stem the alarming figure.

“We have no plausible explanation as to why there were more women than men but just assumptions that women generally seek medical services than their counterparts,” he said. “A proper investigation has since been launched into the matter but this will take long and so in the meantime we focus on the ground activities.”

Makoni said it would not be possible to pinpoint the source until the finalisation of the investigation.

“We will not draw any conclusions just yet. It is however interesting that the highest figures are coming from the rural part of the province,” he said.

NAC statistics indicate that between the month of April and September this year, 11 342 cases of STIs were reported. Of that figure, 7 337 were women while males accounted for 4 005 cases.

Concerned about the upsurge in STIs, Carex Zimbabwe has embarked on a drive to carry out a nationwide tour of all universities in the country to create an awareness of the HIV and Aids and STIs among students.

Because sexually active students are at greater risk of STIs and unintended pregnancies, the Carex Campus Tour, seeks to address safer sex strategies for those who choose to be sexually active.

“Our aim is to advocate for acceptability, effectiveness and feasibility of safe sex and condom use among college students in Zimbabwe.

“We also want to create awareness on HIV and Aids, STIs and unwanted pregnancies among college students,” said Carex Zimbabwe programme officer, Eddie Dhliwayo.

The team has so far visited Africa University (AU), Chinhoyi University of Science and Technology (CUT), Bindura University of Science and Education (Buse) and the Midlands University of Science and Technology (MSU).

Students are lectured on proper condom use, STI identification and treatment.

The team has also introduced a session on entrepreneur and business skills for those willing to be Carex sales reps at the university.
The students are given the option to sell condoms to their peers for a small profit.

“The Carex Entrepreneurship was very popular among students at all universities,” said Dhliwayo.

“This programme not only sought sales agents, but targeted popular opinion leaders that could talk about sexual health and safer sex among their peers.

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