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Gweru records sharp rise in STIs



AN unsettling wave of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) has caught the attention of health authorities in Gweru, who cite drug abuse as one of the contributory factors.


 Gweru City Council health director Dr Samson Sekenhamo has confirmed the sharp rise in STI cases, saying in November 2023 a total of 214 cases were recorded, with 128 female and 86 male.

 This alarming statistic marks a significant increase from the 138 cases reported in October, signalling a growing public health crisis.

 Dr Sekenhamo said the abuse of illicit drugs like crystal meth, also known as “mutoriro”, is worsening the STI problem.

“The rise of these infections is very worrisome, especially among the younger generations. We have noticed that these young people are being promiscuous due to the high usage of drugs, so these STIs are on the rise because of drug and substance abuse,” he said.

A once flourishing hotel in Gweru has emerged as one of the main hotspots for STI transmission as it is now a hub for commercial sex work.

Health education campaigns are being rolled out focusing on the risks associated with unsafe sex among adolescents, a vulnerable group that appears to be at the centre of the crisis.

Despite the availability of condoms in ad[1]equate quantities, it seems their actual usage remains very low among people aged between 18 and 24 years as indicated by the statistics.

STIs, also referred as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), incorporate a range of infections transmitted primarily through sexual contact and most of these diseases can however be diagnosed and treated promptly.

The situation in Gweru reflects a broader and more complex problem that demands a multifaceted approach.

Beyond promoting condom use and safe sex, there is a need to address the root causes of these risky behaviours such as substance abuse. In Zimbabwe, a study conducted between 2020 and 2022 found that 20% of the youth tested positive for at least one of the three STIs which include chlamydia, gonorrhoea and trichomoniasis.

This high prevalence rate of STIs among young people proves that there is an urgent need for improved STI screening and aware[1]ness programmes to be conducted in the communities. Meanwhile, Sekenhamo emphasised that prevention plays a crucial role in curbing the spread of STIs.

 “Consistent use of protection during sexual activity, limiting the number of sexual partners and a proper diagnosis can control the spread of STIs.”

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