A new medical study says fear of being infected is one of the big reasons for the drop in Zimbabwe's HIV rate. Another reason is that AIDS prevention programs are now embraced by most organizations including churches and businesses. Those who were HIV-positive before were shunned by society.
From Reuters Alert Net, writer Kate Kelland gives us more details about the study.
In a study in the journal PLoS Medicine, British researchers said Zimbabwe's epidemic was one of the biggest in the world until the rate of people infected with HIV almost halved, from 29 percent of the population in 1997 to 16 percent in 2007.
Their findings show that Zimbabweans have primarily been motivated to change their sexual behaviour because of increased awareness about AIDS deaths which heightened their fears of catching the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes it.
"The HIV epidemic is still very large, with more than one in 10 adults infected today," said Timothy Hallett of Imperial College, London, who worked on the study.
"We hope that Zimbabwe and other countries in southern Africa can learn from these lessons and strengthen programs to drive infections down even further."
Latest data from the United Nations show that an estimated 33.3 million people worldwide are infected with HIV and the majority of those live in sub-Saharan Africa.
The virus can be controlled with cocktails of drugs, but there is no cure and nearly 30 million people have died of HIV-related causes since the disease first emerged in the 1980s.