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Months Of Crisis & Economic Collapse Raise HIV Risk To Zimbabwean Youth

Among the most urgent problems facing Zimbabwe's national unity government is the HIV/AIDS pandemic which continues to ravage the country's population.

Experts are voicing fears that economic collapse and social disintegration have made young Zimbabweans in particular more vulnerable to infection as the high rate of unemployment leaves them prone to despair and high-risk behaviors

One in four Zimbabweans between the ages of 15 and 44 is HIV-positive, according to the findings of a 2007 study by the University of Zimbabwe in collaboration with Australian, British and U.S. researchers. In recent years the prevalence rate among all Zimbabweans of an age to be sexually active had declined to less than one in five.

National Coordinator Jimmy Wilford of SAYWHAT, a youth-oriented reproductive health action team, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that many youths in the country are demoralized by the long-running crisis and the lack of opportunity, leading to an increase in sexual activities that expose them to HIV.

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