Ellah Mukwati Harare Bureau
ALMOST half of University of Zimbabwe students who recently underwent voluntary HIV testing were positive, a revelation which has forced the institution to limit inter-residence visits between male and female students.
The shocking statistics came out during a recent exercise conducted by the country’s oldest university where 47 percent of students who underwent testing and counseling tested HIV positive.
This follows recent reports that Midlands State University students’ reckless sexual behaviour had been singled out as the major driver of the HIV prevalence rate from 20 percent in 2014 to 23 percent in 2015.
Confirming the results and mitigatory measures being implemented to reduce the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, UZ Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura said allegations that his management style was heavy-handed and infringed on the individual rights of students would not deter him as he could not be seen to be condoning promiscuity.
“The grim statistics of sexually transmitted diseases at the institution have forced us to have a limit for inter-residence visits between female and male students. We have consulted lots of parents and all of them do not want to promote promiscuity by allowing students to enjoy married life-styles by staying with their girlfriends in the halls of residence,” Prof Nyagura said.
“You may be interested to know that not so long ago, we had a survey here which revealed that 47 percent of students who went for voluntary HIV testing were found to be positive. As a parent, that’s a worrisome stat. At some stage I was surprised that Swinton Hall had almost become like a maternity wing with hordes of students pregnant,” he said.
“While we acknowledge that this is an adult institution, we don’t think it’s good for us to encourage cohabitation of male and female students.”
Jimmy Wilford, the director of Saywhat, an organisation that raises awareness on HIV, said while he was not aware of the UZ survey, it could send a wrong message as some students could have been born with HIV.
Meanwhile, Prof Nyagura also revealed that taking of alcohol on campus had been banned as it was thought to worsen acts of vandalism and extreme wayward behaviour detrimental to a learning environment.