Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
SEXUALLY transmitted infections (STIs) cases are on the rise in Bulawayo despite the fact that the number of condoms being distributed in the city has increased.
According to the National Aids Council (NAC), 2 494 new cases were recorded in the first three months of this year compared to 2 116 cases recorded during the same period last year. The council’s provincial monitoring and evaluation officer Mr Douglas Moyo said inconsistent use of condoms and low risk perception was the major cause of the high number of new STIs.
“We recorded 1 396 new STI infections for women and 1 098 for men during the first quarter. It can be noted that there had been a downward trend in cases recorded for both males and females since 2015 but the situation changed this year,” said Mr Moyo.
He said there was a sharp increase in the number of new female cases from 993 in 2016 to 1 396 in 2017 which showed that people are becoming reckless and engaging in unprotected sex. “The figure for men however decreased from 1 123 in 2016 to 1 098 in 2017,” said Mr Moyo.
He said 890 203 male and female condoms were distributed in the city during the first quarter of this year compared to 749 429 condoms distributed over the same period last year.
“We distributed a lot of condoms during the first three months this year but what is worrying is that cases of STIs are on the increase, a confirmation that people are engaging in unprotected sex,” he said.
Mr Moyo said the 24-49 years age group continued to dominate new infections with 1 573 cases.
“We have also noted that the 20-25 years age group is slowly catching up as they contributed 701 infections to the total recorded. Of the total people who had STIs, 101 tested HIV positive and 174 were treated,” he said.
Mr Moyo said behaviour change was the only solution to the challenge of contracting HIV and Aids.
“We have global targets that we are aiming at as a country and so far we have done well in ensuring people get tested. Many people however take HIV and Aids lightly because they say they know everything regarding the pandemic but knowledge is not enough without behaviour change,” said Mr Moyo.
Zimbabwe is working towards ending HIV and Aids by 2030. The 2030 targets follows the 2020 global targets which call for 90 percent of population to know their HIV status and for 90 percent of those who test positive to be under ART.