Chitungwiza Community Development Network Statement on World AIDS Day


    Chitungwiza Community Development Network (CCDN) joins the rest of the world in commemorating World AIDS Day which is held on the 1st of December every year. The theme for this year is Hands Up for HIV Prevention. The day is set aside to raise awareness and call for action in response to HIV and AIDS interventions.
    While commemorating the World AIDS day CCDN is calling for the participation of the government, health workers, church leaders, community leaders, families, educational institutions, young people and the civil society community to work together in meeting the reproductive health needs of the young people. Despite the fact that young people are the most vulnerable to HIV infection in Chitungwiza and Zimbabwe at large, the issue of sexual and reproductive health is still a topic that causes discomfort.
    Young people in Zimbabwe engage in risky sexual behaviour at an early age making them more vulnerable to HIV infection. Economic insecurity drives young people into sex work for a living. Poor young girls, due to lack of alternatives for earning a livelihood have now engage in child prostitution making them vulnerable to HIV infection.
    Some religious practices also place young women, in particular, at risk of exposure to HIV. Some of the apostolic church (mapostori) sect forces girls to marry older polygamous men as part of a process of meeting God’s expectations. While this practice may offer parents increased financial security, it is potentially harmful since older men are associated with higher levels of HIV infection.
    Despite their vulnerability, young Zimbabweans have limited access to reproductive health services, including treatment for STIs and information about sexual health. Social stigma and poor treatment from adults and health care workers are also major obstacles to care.
    Therefore, to reduce the rate of HIV infection among the youth in Chitungwiza and Zimbabwe at large, CCDN is appealing to all the sectors of the society to engage and provide the necessary sexual health information to young people. Access to services must be ensured for the young people. The services should be provided by all sectors in a comfortable environment for young people to seek treatment and obtain advice, with services provided confidentially and sensitively.