By Danmore Chuma.
Providing cash incentives to the most vulnerable groups in high risk countries can help to curb the spread of the deadly HIV scourge a health expert has claimed
Presenting her speech during the 9th International Workshop on HIV Treatment, Pathogenesis and Prevention Research in Resource-Limited Settings (INTEREST) in Harare recently Sinead Delany Moretlwe said money really matters in preventing HIV spread by those at high risk especially young women.
According to a research done by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Lesotho where young vulnerable women were given $50-$100 per month, HIV infection was reduced by 60%.
The same exercise was done in rural Malawi and HIV contraction among young women was reduced by 25%.‘’It is not only about money. It is actually about dealing with the barriers that hinders effective prevention of the pandemic. The reason why young woman are mostly at risk is because they live in impoverished circumstances.
‘’Other preventative mechanisms will hit a hard rock if these barriers are not effectively addressed,’’ said Moretlwe.
In Zimbabwe high cases of drug abuse and prostitution have been linked to high poverty levels. There seem to be a well coordinated link between poverty and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.
About 60 000 Zimbabweans die every year from HIV related illnesses.She encouraged governments in the region to channel a large chunk of their budget on social grants towards providing financial support to those in serious need.37 countries in Africa have social grants but none except South Africa has contributed towards cash incentives as a means of mitigating the spread of HIV.
The 3 day workshop saw over 450 delegates from across Africa, Asia, America and Europe gracing the event.