ZIMBABWE continues to lose high numbers of adolescent boys aged 10 to 19 to the AIDS epidemic despite the country having made tremendous strides in controlling the AIDS epidemic.
By Michael Gwarisa
According to latest HIV estimates, AIDS related deaths in adolescent boys have been on an upward trend since 2016 unlike in female adolescents where AIDS induced deaths have been declining.
Presenting on the country’s HIV estimates, National AIDS Council (NAC) National Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, Mr Isaac Taramusi said adolescent girls constitute the biggest chunk of new HIV infections but boys on the other hand are succumbing to AIDS the most.
For adolescents, key to note is that most of the new infections where we have also 2,700 and almost 2,400 new infections are happening in females. You could see that we are getting also like 300 new infections are happening in males in disproportionate level. Vice versa, when it comes to deaths, we see that more deaths are happening in male adolescents as compared to girls,” said Mr Taramusi.
He added that there is need to scale up adolescents’ differentiated care Guidelines models that target adolescents. According to the estimates, 1,142 deaths were recorded in females 2016, while in 2017, an estimated 954 deaths recorded, in 2018, an estimated 859 deaths, in 2019, 790 deaths, in 2020, 748 and in 2021, an estimated 665 deaths in females.
However, in males, a not so pleasant trajectory is showing that in the year 2016, an estimated 1,144 deaths were recorded in male adolescents while in 2017, 944, in 2018 and estimated 856 deaths were recorded, in 2019, deaths were at 795, in 2020 they were 762 and in 2021, AIDS related deaths in male adolescents were estimated at 688 which is higher that was recorded in the same in female adolescents.
Zimbabwe has been implementing a number of harm reductions measures to reduce new HIV infections in both adolescent and adult males and these include voluntary medical male circumcision and condoms.
Presenting Data from the Gl2022 Global AIDS Monitoring Report Summary, Mr Amon Mpofu, the Monitoring and Evolution Director in the National AIDS Council said a number of HIV prevention programs were affected by the COVID-19.
“There was a general decline in the number of condoms that were distributed between 2020 and 2021. In 2020, 83 million male condoms were distributed while only 2.9 million female condoms were distributed in the same year. The dip in 2020 is attributed to service disruption due to Covid-19,” he said.