Matabeleland North Province has the second highest prevalence rate of HIV among adults aged between 15 and 64 years which stands at 20. 1 percent.

Matabeleland South is the leading province with a prevalence rate of 22.3 percent.

Tsholotsho has become a vulnerable district since the time a large number of people who fell victim to the floods were temporarily provided with shelter at Sipepa camp.

Adolescent girls and women that are at the flood victims camp are therefore facing high risk of contracting HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies.

The district already has a prevalence rate of 17 percent which is higher than the national prevalence of 14.6 percent.

In a speech read on his behalf, Matabeleland North Minister of State Ambassador Cain Mathema told provincial heads who attended the advocacy meeting held in Bulawayo for HIV mainstreaming for displaced communities that there is a need to prioritise HIV prevention services in communities affected by disasters.

“The World Health Organisation in its definition of key affected populations includes among others women and adolescent girls, women who sell sex, artisanal miners and so forth. This definition however excludes communities affected by disasters. In my definition i would like to have communities affected by either floods as in the case with the Sipepa community in Tsholotsho to be included in this definition because of the degree of their vulnerability,” said Ambassador Mathema.

Stakeholders who took part in the meeting agreed that HIV remains an emergency that needs to be given top priority at all levels in the government, corporate world and the civic society.

The one day meeting was aimed at sharing ideas and experiences on how to tackle HIV issues for the Sipepa community in which some flood victims lost medication and were not able to identify specific tablets they had been taking.

The meeting was held at a time the Ministry of Health and Child Care is preparing to host a three day HIV prevention revitalisation for the Eastern and Southern African countries in Victoria Falls starting on Wednesday.