The City of Gweru has witnessed a concerning increase in cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). According to Dr. Samson Sekenhamo, the Health Director of Gweru City Council, there were a total of 214 STIs reported in November 2023, with 128 cases among females and 86 cases among males, Community Voices Zimbabwe reported.
This sharp rise in STI cases, compared to the 138 cases reported in October, has raised significant alarm and highlights a growing public health problem. Dr. Sekenhamo attributes the surge in infections to the consumption of illegal drugs like mutoriro, which is contributing to risky sexual behaviour. He expressed particular concern about the younger generation, as their involvement in promiscuous activities driven by drug abuse is leading to the increased spread of STIs. He said:
The rise in these infections is very worrisome, especially among younger generations. We have noticed that these children are engaging in promiscuous behavior due to the high usage of drugs. As a result, STIs are on the rise because of drug and substance abuse.
The Midlands Hotel has emerged as a prominent hub for commercial sex work, further exacerbating the situation. To address this crisis, health education campaigns targeting adolescents, who are at the heart of the problem, are being implemented. Despite the availability of an adequate supply of condoms, their usage remains low among individuals aged 18-24, as indicated by the statistics.
Sexually transmitted diseases encompass a range of infections primarily transmitted through sexual contact. These infections can be promptly diagnosed and treated. The situation in Gweru reflects a more complex issue that demands a comprehensive approach. A study conducted between 2020 and 2022 in Zimbabwe revealed a high prevalence rate of STIs among young people, with 20% testing positive for at least one of three common STIs: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Trichomonas. This underscores the urgent need for improved STI screening and awareness programs within communities.
Dr. Sekenhamo emphasized the importance of prevention in curbing the spread of STIs. Consistent use of protection during sexual activity, limiting the number of sexual partners, and seeking proper diagnosis are vital measures to control the transmission of STIs.