CIRCUMCISED men have been warned to stop thinking that HIV cannot be easily transmitted to them because they have had their foreskin cut off, amid revelations that such a mentality had seen an increase in HIV prevalence.
Speaking at the World Aids Day commemorations in Victoria Falls yesterday, Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa said the spread of HIV in the country was being increased by circumcised young men who did not want to use condoms.
“We have managed to fight HIV and Aids since 1985 in a very big way and there has been a huge decrease, but the problem remains mainly because of males between the ages of 18 and 24, who tend to shun condoms after circumcising,” he said.
“Circumcision does not give anyone a torch to shine in every darkness, so we urge young males to stop spreading the disease through a mentality that HIV cannot be transferred when one is circumcised.”
The minister further urged people to stop buying anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs from the black market saying it led to many deaths because some bought fake pills.
“As a country, we still remain lagging behind in tight security for ARVs as some people sell these drugs on the black market,” he said.
“Some people sell these drugs to make cocktails for them to get intoxicated and many have died in the process.
“Some buy contraceptive pills from these markets and the virus worsens for those individuals. Therefore, I would like to urge the National Aids Council to track where those drugs are leaked and we will deal with the offenders.”
Parirenyatwa said they had managed to launch an increased access to treatment programme, which is aimed at cost saving, with drug prices decreasing from $55 to $17.
“In Zimbabwe, we have also gone a step further and launched the increased access to treatment programme, which is a procurement cost saving mechanism,” he said.
“In this programme, anti-retroviral therapy drugs procured through the Aids Levy on competitive prices are distributed to private pharmacies allowing clients on medical aid to buy their drugs at cheaper prices.
“Through this arrangement, prices of ARV drugs have fallen from over $55 to below $17 in participating pharmacies, while funds recovered in the process are close $1 million in just one year.”
Parirenyatwa said significant progress had been recorded in Africa in HIV prevention and treatment, but he said there was a need for countries to use their natural resources than to rely on donors to provide drug finances.
The commemorations were attended by close to 1 000 people from 47 countries.