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.