Zimbabwe HIV/AIDS Prevalence, Incidence Declined In 2004, UNAIDS Report Says
HIV/AIDS prevalence and incidence in Zimbabwe declined in 2004 because of a change in sexual behavior, notably a "substantial increase" in condom use and an "increase in faithfulness," according to a report released on Wednesday by UNAIDS, IRIN reports. The report -- titled "Evidence for HIV decline in Zimbabwe" and conducted by a team that included researchers from Imperial College London -- says the HIV prevalence rate among pregnant women dropped from 26% in 2002 to 21% last year. The data show that prevention programs targeted at changing sexual behavior helped to cut incidence rates, UNAIDS epidemiologist Peter Ghys said. He added that the epidemic in Zimbabwe is "old" compared with other countries in the region, so the country has had a "longer period of time to respond to the crisis." He also said the Zimbabwean government's efforts to decentralize HIV/AIDS prevention and education programs have been successful in reducing HIV incidence, adding, "Very early in the epidemic the government was charging an AIDS levy, which helped fund HIV prevention programs at the district level." The recent review's findings echo those of a study conducted in October by CDC, UNAIDS and several universities that reported that HIV prevalence among Zimbabweans ages 15 to 49 had decreased from 24.6% to 20.1% in the last two years (IRIN, 12/8).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.