Lack of meaningful productive work among resettled farmers in Mashonaland East has led to a spike in HIV/AIDS related cases as the new land occupiers have resorted to sex as a pass time, a provincial AIDS committee has said.
According to the National AIDS Council’s (NAC) provincial office, an estimated 119 147 sexually active people in the province aged 15 years and above were living with the virus with those in the farming communities being the hardest hit.
NAC said the HIV/AIDS stood at 16% with Marondera recording the highest prevalence rate of 20.4%; Murewa, 18.2%; Chikomba, 16.5% and Wedza, 15.2%.
“We have areas that have higher pockets of HIV/AIDS particularly in the farming communities. Many people in the farming communities have nothing to do and end up engaging in sexual activities to while up time hence the high HIV positivity rates recorded in such areas,” NAC said.
“Most HIV infections are being recorded in these areas where many people indulge in unprotected sex owing to various reasons, chief among them being redundancy.
“When carrying out HIV/AIDS programmes, population density plays a big role.
“The areas of focus that we picked are; Murewa, Goromonzi and Marondera because these are districts with the highest population in the province,” said a statement from NAC.
Production in most formerly white owned commercial farms has been seriously affected since the government’s controversial land grab programme which began in 2000.
This has forced the country to import maize, a staple food, while international aid organisations are also assisting in easing the shortages especially in the rural areas.