Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Zimbabwe: Decline in HIV infection in the past decade

In 1997, as many as 29% of the adult population in Zimbabwe as infected with HIV, and currently only about 16% are infected.

Last week PLoS Medicince published their findings of the basis for this decline.  The dominant reason is a decrease in extramarital sex.  Interviews with 200+ Zimbabweans show that seeing other people die was a major deterrent from continuing extramarital sex.

Additionally, the collapse of the economy under President Robert Mugabe cost the majority of citizens 90% of their purchasing power.  With this major decrease, men couldn’t afford to buy sex or pay for multiple girlfriends.

What was most interesting was the shift in sexual norms.  Having a sexually transmitted disease shifted from being masculine to becoming shameful.  Relative to other countries, condom usage is already at 60% and didn’t shift much, but education and marriage rates are higher in Zimbabwe than nearby countries.


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