REVELATIONS that drug abuse, especially by young people, may reverse the gains the country has achieved in tackling HIV and Aids should serve as a wake-up call to society on the negative impacts of substance abuse.
Several calls have been made for communities to work with authorities in addressing the drug abuse scourge that has become one of the greatest threats to the country’s youth.
The drug abuse is bad enough and the methods that the youth are using to administer the substances has created a greater crisis.
The revelations should jolt communities into urgent action as the drug abuse threat is real and if nothing is done sooner, the damage would be far greater to recover from.
Speaking during a virtual meeting on the Implementation of Comprehensive, Evidence Based HIV Prevention Services Among People Who Use Drugs in Zimbabwe, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavhima said drug use and vuzu parties were fertile ground for the uptake of illicit drugs and risky sexual behaviour that could derail the progress that had been attained in the HIV response.
“It has been brought to our attention that most of these drug users are using unsterilised injections in administering drugs.
Considering that the risk of acquiring HIV through sharing such items is very high, this behaviour of injecting drugs has now become a cause for concern as it exacerbates the spread of HIV and Aids in the country at a time the country is battling to reduce new infections,” said Prof Mavhima.
“Zimbabwe has made some significant progress in combating HIV but when abuse becomes more prevalent, we risk losing the benefits of the previous successes that we had achieved in combating HIV.
There is also a surge in the so-called wild-sex parties or vuzu parties.
It is mainly done by very young people in the urban areas in Bulawayo and Harare and this also has a spectre of increasing the use of drugs and indeed then facilitating the spread of HIV and Aids”
A 2020 World Health Organisation (WHO) report showed that deaths from drug abuse in Zimbabwe reached 213 or 0,20 percent of the total deaths that year.
Stories of youths abusing drugs, developing mental health challenges and committing heinous crimes like murder and domestic violence are now pervasive.