Zimbabwe’s condom usage now tops that of any other country in the world, with over 109 million condoms used in 2014. These safe sex practices have helped the southern African country lower the number of HIV infections, according to data collected by the state-run National Aids Council (NAC) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
“We are the highest consumers of condoms in the world currently. That is why we have realized a reduction in HIV infection rates,” Amon Mpofu, NAC’s director of monitoring and evaluating, told News24 in South Africa on Thursday. “We had 104 million male condoms and 5.2 million female condoms distributed in 2014 alone.”
HIV infections in Zimbabwe were cut in half for adults from 2009 to 2015, and by 30 percent among children from 2010 to 2015. HIV and AIDS-related mortality rates in Zimbabwe also dropped by 30 percent for adults and children by 2015, according to the report.
The UNFPA is the largest international supplier of condoms. Free condoms are also distributed by the Zimbabwean government, nongovernmental organizations and social marketing campaigns. However, most condoms in Zimbabwe are now purchased. Female condom sales in the southern African country are among the highest in the world. Despite Zimbabwe’s large-scale condom distribution, gaps in consistent condom use persist, the report said.
Zimbabwe still suffers from a widespread HIV epidemic. More than 1.4 million people live with HIV in Zimbabwe, a country of 13 million, according to the latest data. The first cases of AIDS in Zimbabwe were identified in the mid-1980s, according to the World Health Organization.
The deadly virus is most prevalent in large-scale commercial farms, administrative centers, high-growth areas outside cities and towns, state lands and mines in the southern African nation. Many Zimbabwean men also avoid HIV screenings, which is a crucial first step in HIV treatment and prevention.
“A recent study has also revealed that most men in this country are afraid to go for HIV testing,” Mpofu told News24 on Thursday.
HIV, the acronym for for human immunodeficiency virus, is a sexually transmitted infection that damages your immune system and interferes with your body’s ability to fight diseases. AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is the final stage of HIV infection. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS and not everyone who has HIV gets AIDS.