THE country recorded a total of 57,300 new HIV infections in 2015, statistics from the recently released Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey show.
The survey, which is done every five years, shows new infections decreased from 77,300 in 2010 bringing the national prevalence to 13.8 percent.
“The results of the ZDHS confirm significant progress towards achieving the 90-90-90 targets. This is confirmed by the 2015 HIV estimates that show a 25 percent decrease in new infections, from 1 percent in 2010 to 0.74 percent in 2015,” read the survey report.
Less than half of adolescents aged between 15 and 24 years, who are the most vulnerable group, have comprehensive knowledge about HIV prevention. The survey shows young women with only primary school education and young people living in rural areas have the least knowledge about HIV.
“The knowledge of HIV prevention methods among the these most vulnerable youth is unfortunately going down. “Teenage pregnancy is still too high and around half of 15-24 year-old men and one third of 15-24-year-old women have never tested for HIV.”
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), one of the sponsors for the survey, suggested keeping girls in school beyond primary school level and strengthening comprehensive sexuality education as a solution to empower adolescents.
Survey statistics show that unwanted teenage pregnancies dropped in urban areas but increased in rural areas.
“Adolescent pregnancy varies widely according to wealth, geographic location and education. It is more than twice higher among girls with primary education than among those who attended secondary school,” read the report.
It also emphasised that increased testing, Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) and increased condom use as highlighted by the 2015 ZDHS, shows that HIV prevention programmes were successful in changing behaviours.
The 2015 ZDHS also confirmed that violence against women is rife in Zimbabwe and affects all women, regardless of geographic location, wealth or education.
“It also shows that women empowered by tertiary education have less risk (although it still affects one in five of the most educated). But solutions do exist.”
The 2015 ZDHS was conducted by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency between July and December 2015.