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Researchers Predict Fall in Zimbabwe AIDS Death Rate

Medical researchers predict a decline in deaths from AIDS-related causes in Zimbabwe over the next decade because Zimbabweans have been changing their behavior faced with the devastating impact of the disease on the Southern African nation.

Behavior changes were most pronounced among Zimbabwean youth, found the study conducted between 1998 and 2003 by scientists from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Zimbabwe who published findings recently in the journal Science.

The study focused on rural areas in the eastern part of Zimbabwe with interviews over the 1998-2003 perioc in small towns, new settlements and public housing.

The United Nations organization fighting AIDS said Zimbabwe’s HIV prevalence rate - the proportion of the sexually active population infected with the virus - fell from some 25 percent to around 20 percent between 2000 and 2003 in the study area.

But UNAIDS and the authors of "HIV Decline Associated With Behavior Change in Eastern Zimbabwe," published Feb. 3 in Science, both warned that Zimbabweans should not become complacent, as the infection rate in the country is still among the highest in Sub-Saharan africa and for that matter the entire world.

Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe interviewed study co-author Geoffrey Garnett, a professor in the infectious disease epidemiology department at Imperial College London.

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