Mozambique Health Official Calls for Research Into Culture To Understand Spread of HIV
Mozambique's Deputy Health Minister, Aida Libombo, recently said that more research into the cultural habits of Mozambicans is needed to determine how these factors contribute to the spread of HIV, AIM/AllAfrica.com reports. Speaking at the National Youth Meeting in the province of Sofala, Libombo said that young women ages 15 to 24 are most at risk of HIV in the country. She added that the risk factors for HIV among women in Mozambique are poverty, an inability to negotiate the use of condoms, early initiation of sexual activity and sexual abuse. In addition, widowhood can increase a woman's risk of HIV because of the cultural tradition of a widowed woman having sex with a male relative of her late husband, Libombo said, adding that risk factors for men include excessive alcohol and drug use.
According to AIM/AllAfrica.com, participants at the meeting suggested that the government provide female condoms to all provinces. Libombo said that although female condoms are available in private pharmacies, they are expensive and not many are sold. Female condoms will be included in a shipment of 700 million condoms being sent to Mozambique in the near future and will be distributed at no cost through a government partnership with UNAIDS.
Also speaking at the meeting, Diogo Milagre -- executive secretary of the National AIDS Council -- said that men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of HIV. He also announced that a household survey will be held next year and will test people of all age groups as a way to determine HIV prevalence in the country (AIM/AllAfrica.com, 10/26).