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Economic Collapse Cited As Factor In Reduced Zimbabwe HIV Rate

The Washington Post reported Friday that the economic crisis in Zimbabwe is contributing to the decline in the HIV prevalence rate in the country as men who might be tempted to have extramarital relations lack the means to indulge themselves.

"Men report fewer girlfriends, fewer visits to prostitutes and less casual sex - all indicators that in other countries have accompanied a retreating epidemic," reported correspondent Craig Timberg. The country's HIV prevalence rate has declined in the last few years from around one in four Zimbabweans to less than one in five.

Meanwhile, Friday, an HIV/AIDS exposition in downtown Harare focused on the need to maintain vigilance against infection with the slogan, "Stop AIDS, Keep the Promise, HIV Prevention Now.” The event in Harare Gardens featured acapella group Vabati VaJehovah and Zexie Manatsa, who was scheduled to perform Saturday.

The three-day exposition attracted about 3,000 people, according to organizer Roger Jeffrey of Tibatane Sibambane Consultancy, interviewed by the state-run Herald newspaper. Jeffrey said he expected a better turnout for future expos.

"There hasn't been anything like this of its kind before and one hopes that it grows by leaps and bounds as we approach the 2010 FIFA World Cup," he told the paper.

Director Tapuwa Magure of the National AIDS Council, which provided technical support for the exposition, told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that art and music could help convey key anti-AIDS messages.

AIDS activists say that despite a decline in the HIV prevalence rate, prevention messages still need to be reinforced.

Director Tendayi Kureya of Development Data said such events help keep the risk of HIV infection in the spotlight to keep people from growing complacent.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...