STI alert as Masvingo tertiary institutions open
Masvingo (New Ziana) -The Masvingo chapter of the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) has expressed alarm at the spike in sexually transmitted infections among tertiary students in the province.
The alarm comes in the wake of re-opening shortly of tertiary educational institutions in the province among them Reformed Church University and the Great Zimbabwe University which will see thousands of young men and women converging in Masvingo City.
The large influx of university students is in addition to those attending the Masvingo Polytechnic as well as the Masvingo, Bondolfi and Morgenster Teachers’ Colleges.
ZNFPC provincial education and marketing officer Herbert Chikosi said his organisation had enough condoms to cater for the whole province in the fight against new HIV and STI infections.
“We have enough, quality and free condoms to cater for the whole province and it happens that they are opening a week after we have just celebrated International Condom Day which we merged with Valentine’s Day on the 14th educating people that safer is sex,” he said.
The HIV prevalence rate for Masvingo currently stands at 12, 4 percent with the province also grappling HIV at hot spots such as Chiredzi, Mashava and along the Masvingo-Beitbridge highway.
Some of the tertiary school female students are involved in inter-generational and transactional relationships commonly known as “blessers” and most of them shun the use of condoms in favor of the “morning after” pills.
The increase in the use of the “morning after” pills to prevent pregnancy by students raises fears among reproductive health service providers including the National AIDS Council (NAC) that they worried more about pregnancy rather than HIV and STIs.
The students also shun using the free Panther condoms commonly known as ‘maDembare’ because of their blue colour citing their smell, which often gives out those that would have indulged in sexual intercourse in between lectures, and during tea and lunch breaks.
Zimbabwe, which has the fifth highest HIV prevalence rate in Africa, is, together with other highly burdened countries, aiming to reduce new infections to 500 000 annually by 2020.
According to a recent UNAids report, new infections stand at 1.8 million against the 2020 target.