Good news from and about Zimbabwe is rare. But this February, a new study revealed a dramatic drop in new HIV infections among Zimbabwe's 12 million people, 1.8 million of whom are already HIV positive. The disease's prevalence dropped from 23 percent to 20.5 percent of the population.
Zimbabwe's first study was done between 1998 and 2000. A team of British scientists collected blood samples in the eastern part of the country. The sample collecting was followed up with a questionnaire on behavior. The research was repeated in 2003.
The most dramatic changes were in behavior. The percentage of women, aged 15 and 17, who reported a sexual experience during the previous 12 months dropped from 21 percent to 9 percent. Older men and women also reported changes in behavior. The number of people who'd had casual sex recently dropped from 49 percent to 22 percent.
Geoffrey Garnett, a coauthor of the study, says "increases in condom use" could explain the decline in HIV infections. But Edward Green, an American researcher known for his study of the role of abstinence and fidelity in reducing HIV rates, told CT, "Zimbabwe seems to be following the same path as Uganda and Kenya." Christians in Uganda, Kenya, and other African states have supported the so-called ABC strategy for reducing infection rates.
Green said the Zimbabwe study shows that "the primary change again seems to be B [be faithful], partner reduction; followed by A [abstinence]; followed by C [consistent condom use]." Zimbabwe has 900,000 children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS deaths, which occur at the rate of more than 1,000 each week.
Also posted today is:
Zimbabwe Nightmare | Christians try to negotiate ministry in southern Africa's most failed state.