Wednesday, July 26, 2006

HIV rate falls in Zim

HIV/AIDS prevalence rate continued to decline to 21 percent this year in Zimbabwe as more and more people changed their sexual behavior, Zimbabwean Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa has said.

One little problem: If people change their bahavior, the rate stays the same.
There are three ways to make the rate go down.

One: People with HIV migrate. The previous story noted that one quarter of it's people migrated. Since people who migrate tend to be healthy, they could not have AIDS but could be HIV positive (depends on how you make the diagnosis).
On the other hand, HIV is more common among the young and better educated, which is the same group that would be able to migrate.

Two: You increase the baseline population of HIV negative people. In other words, you have lots and lots of babies. This increases the negative numbers so the postive percentage goes down.

Three People with HIV die.
Alas, there has been a famine, and those with HIV are more prone to die of minor infections or of things like TB. With the decrease in money for drugs, with the emigration of doctors and nurses, with the flight to the rural areas where there is less medical treatment, and with poor nutrition, one would expect that many people with HIV would die of other diseases.

At a recent technological conference in Bulawayo, the second largest city of Zimbabwe, Parirenyatwa said his country had seen a remarkable decline in the prevalence rate from 31 percent in 1999 to 21 percent this year.


He urged researchers to explore the use of traditional medicines for the treatment of HIV/AIDS-related illnesses and improve the effectiveness of anti-retrovirals.

Of course there is no proof they work but it looks nice on paper.

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