Poverty is the biggest obstacle to stopping the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zimbabwe, Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe said Monday at a UNAIDS meeting focused on stopping the epidemic among women and girls.
"Poverty undermines the ability of young girls and women to protect themselves from the epidemic as most adopt coping strategies that expose them to the risk of HIV/Aids," said Khupe,recently appointed goodwill ambassador for the campaign to accelerated reduced maternal mortality in Africa.
"Gender inequality and unequal power relations between women and men continues to influence the spread of HIV/Aids epidemic," Khupe told the gathering. "And a number of socio-economic and religious related gender issues also predispose women and girls to HIV infections."
In Zimbabwe, female university students without incomes ended up selling their bodies to get a few dollars for their upkeep, exposing themselves to the deadly virus, Khupe told the meeting.
Khupe said Zimbabwe lacks sufficient financial resources to fight HIV/AIDS. She said she intended to seek additional funds to bolster the country’s efforts to stop the spread of the virus.
The conference was called for the purpose of creating a new and sustainable network of female legislators and ministers from around Africa to fight HIV and develop policy implementation plans for the UNAIDS agenda for accelerated country action at the national and regional level, organizers said.