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Despite Latest Decline in HIV Rate, Zimbabwe Has Long Health Road Ahead

As Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe noted in remarks to the United Nations on Friday, the country while making some progress against HIV/AIDS faces a major challenge making antiretroviral drugs available to all of those who need them to live with HIV.

The Ministry of Health and National Aids Council announced this week that the drop in HIV prevalence to 13.7% from 15.6% in 2008 and 24.6% in 2003 was due to heightened awareness, showing that state and donor programs are working.

Frenk Guni, technical director for HIV-Aids with Management Systems International in Washington, told reporter Sandra Nyaira of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that celebration is not in order as 13.7% is too high a level of infection among those 15 and older.

Elsewhere, health experts have been warning for months of a potential resurgence of cholera in Zimbabwe, where a major epidemic of the disease claimed more than 4,200 lives through mid-2009. Now nine confirmed new cases of cholera have been reported in Musikavanhu district of Manicaland province, bringing the total of new cases there to 21.

Musikavanhu Member of Parliament Prosper Mutsemayi said Health Ministry officials confirmed the outbreak is cholera, having concluded earlier that they were only diarrhea.

Communications Officer Tsitsi Singizi of the United Nations Children’s Fund or Unicef, said she could not provide independent confirmation of the Manicaland cases, but added that another outbreak is inevitable because much of the country still lacks clean water.

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