ZVISHAVANE – The establishment of the Midlands State University (MSU)'s Zvishavane campus has led to a rapid increase in the use of Levonogestrel pills, popularly known as 'morning after' pills, a situation that threatens to reverse recent against new HIV infection rates, it has been said.
Speaking at the sidelines of Bethany Project Sports Gala, the District AIDS Coordinator, Denis Jaravani was worried that statistics of new HIV infection and prevalence in Zvishavane could soon point to the worst due to evidence of unprotected sex by students.
Although Jaravani expressed cautious optimism on the recent gains the district has made in reducing HIV cases, he made it clear that infection rates remain very high in such places as Mabula, Zuderburg and Mandava due to the presence of many artisanal miners.
"We fear that the figures may increase with the coming of (MSU) students as statistics we get show that the use of morning after pills increase in the course of their semesters," Jaravani said, warning young people on the dangers of promiscuity and unprotected sex.
The morning after pill is up to 89 percent effective in preventing pregnancy when taken within 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex.
Jaravani said extensive awareness campaigns had nonetheless seen the district dropping from second position last year to fifth this year in terms of HIV prevalence rate in the Midlands.
Bethany Project director, Rebecca Gumbo urged the youth to protect their health by engaging in activities that keep them away from sex.
"The youth must avoid risky behavior that put their lives in danger. The main idea of this event is to encourage the youth to know their HIV status to enable them to shape their future accordingly," Gumbo said.
"We are planning to reach the vision 2020 goals; getting 90 percent of the people tested to know their HIV statuses. I hope with the help we are getting from various stakeholders and the responses we are getting from the youth, the goal will be achieved," she added
The gala was graced by a number of stakeholders including representatives from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC), Midlands AIDS Caring Organisation, Midlands Aids Support Organisation, National Aids Council (NAC) and the Ministry of Sports and Recreation.news