By Takudzwa Josiah
UNAIDS says Gender inequality remains a major driver of the AIDS epidemic in Africa. the organization has urged communities to increase gender equality in order to reduce the risk of infection among women and girls.
César Antonio Núñez, Director of the UNAIDS New York Office, said such inequalities and power dynamics restrict women’s ability to make decisions about their own health.
He highlighted that it is important for the government and communities to implement initiatives to promote gender equality by increasing female representation in decision-making processes, providing better sexual and reproductive health services, and promoting the use of condoms.
He emphasized the need to make efforts to address the underlying root causes of gender inequality, such as poverty, social exclusion, and lack of education.
Núñez also urged communities to ensure that girls are not taken out of school, emphasizing that research has shown that staying in school lowers the risk of contracting HIV by 50%.
He added that it is essential for schools to provide comprehensive sexual health instruction in order to equip young girls and boys with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions about their health.
He indicated that schools should ensure they can access services, such as free and confidential HIV testing, counselling, and condom distribution at local clinics and health centres, which is essential in the fight against HIV.
Zimbabwe is one of the countries in Southern Africa with a high HIV prevalence rate, with 54% of the population under 20 years of age. According to UNICEF, around one-third of all new HIV infections occur in adolescents and young people aged between 15 and 24.