47% of UZ students are HIV Positive

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Nearly half the University of Zimbabwe students who recently underwent voluntary HIV testing were positive, prompting the institution to limit inter-residence visits between male and female students.

A recent exercise conducted by the country’s oldest university showed that 47 percent of students who underwent testing and counselling tested HIV positive.

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This follows reports that Midlands State University students’ reckless sexual behaviour had been singled out as a major driver of the HIV prevalence rate from 20 percent in 2014 to 23 percent last year.

Said UZ Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura: “The grim statistics of sexually transmitted diseases at the institution have forced us to have a limit for inter-residence visits between female and male students.

“We have consulted lots of parents and all of them do not want to promote promiscuity by allowing students to enjoy married lifestyles by staying with their girlfriends in the halls of residence.

“You may be interested to know that not so long ago, we had a survey here which revealed that 47 percent of students who went for voluntary HIV testing were found to be positive.

“As a parent, that’s a worrisome stat. At some stage I was surprised that Swinton Hall had almost become like a maternity wing with hordes of students pregnant. While we acknowledge that this is an adult institution, we don’t think it’s good for us to encourage cohabitation of male and female students.

Jimmy Wilford, the director of Saywhat, an organisation that raises awareness on HIV, said while he was not aware of the UZ survey, it could send a wrong message as some students could have been born with HIV.

Meanwhile, Prof Nyagura also revealed that taking of alcohol on campus had been banned as it was thought to worsen acts of vandalism and extreme wayward behaviour detrimental to a learning environment.

He gave an example of a student who slit another student’s stomach with a broken beer bottle last year, while another attempted to rape a pregnant woman.

“There were rampant acts of destruction of property and hooliganism and this had to stop. So if anyone wants beer, he is free to go outside the campus and drink in surrounding night clubs or beer halls but not on campus,” he said.

On student’s activism, Prof Nyagura said the institution did not bar students from participating in politics or belonging to political parties. He, however, said no political party was allowed to campaign or hold meetings on campus.

Prof Nyagura, who assumed vice chancellorship in 2003, has been credited for bringing a semblance of peace and order at the institution long dogged by demonstrations by students and industrial action by staff members.

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