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Jul 3, 2007
New Zimbabwe survey finds one in six adults has HIV

Calverton, MD. One in six adults in Zimbabwe (18 percent) has HIV, according to the new 2005-06 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS). The ZDHS findings show that the HIV epidemic is generalized across all provinces in Zimbabwe, ranging from 15 percent in Masvingo to 21 percent in Matabeleland South. The final report was released today.

As in other African countries, HIV affects more women than men in Zimbabwe. Twenty-one percent of women age 15 to 49 are infected with HIV. For men of the same age, HIV prevalence is 15 percent. For women, HIV prevalence peaks between the ages of 30 and 34 at 36 percent. For men, it peaks almost a decade later, between the ages of 40 and 44 at 33 percent. The ZDHS interviewed more than 13,000 men and women between August 2005 and March 2006.

The ZDHS is the first national survey to use population-based testing to determine HIV prevalence. Previous HIV estimates using sentinel surveillance found a prevalence rate of 24 percent. Because the two methodologies are different, the numbers cannot be directly compared. Thus, the new ZDHS rate of 18 percent does not necessarily signal a decline in HIV prevalence. Sentinel surveillance relies on regular HIV testing of sub-groups within the population, usually pregnant women attending antenatal care clinics. By contrast, population-based testing collects blood from a nationally representative sample of women and men in their homes. This method provides direct information on HIV infection among the general adult population.

Other significant findings from the ZDHS include:

  • HIV prevalence increases as the number of lifetime sexual partners increases. Men with ten or more lifetime sexual partners are almost five times as likely to be HIV-positive as men with only one lifetime sexual partner.
  • Among young people (age 15 to 24), 8 percent are HIV positive. Young women are significantly more likely to be infected than young men, at 11 percent and 4 percent, respectively.
  • Among HIV-positive adults, 23 percent of women and 21 percent of men have never used condoms.
  • Almost three-quarters of HIV-positive women and more than 80 percent of HIV-positive men do not know they are infected with HIV.
  • Almost one in four (24 percent) of children under the age of 18 have lost one or both of their parents to HIV/AIDS.

The ZDHS was conducted by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) with the collaboration of the Ministry of Health and Child Wealth and the Zimbabwe Family Planning Council. Macro International Inc. provided technical assistance in the design, implementation and analysis of the survey as part of the Demographic and Health Surveys project (MEASURE DHS). Funding for the survey was provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Government of Zimbabwe, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID).