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zimbabwe

Zimbabwe on Thursday reported new progress in its fight against AIDS, saying its HIV infection rate has declined to 13.7 percent of youths and adults, from an estimated 14.1 percent last year.

Health minister Henry Madzorera said the rate was still too high, calling for concerted efforts to push the rate down into single digits.

“We have to redouble our efforts and commitment and keep the sense of hope that indeed one day we will get to the single digit prevalence,” Madzorera said, according to the state-run NewZiana news agency.

The figure estimates the percentage of people aged 15 to 49 who have HIV.

Zimbabwe is one of the few countries in the world to have recorded a sharp decline in its HIV prevalence rate, down from a high of 33 percent in 1999.

The drop is attributed to government and donor-backed prevention campaigns, but also to the nation’s economic collapse, which has made it more difficult for people to maintain multiple sexual partners.

The country is struggling to care for people with AIDS because of severe shortages of anti-retroviral drugs. About 60,000 people receive the drugs, only one-fifth of those who need them.

Madzorera said the government was exploring new strategies to fight the pandemic, including male circumcision, which has been shown to reduce infection rates among men.

Just over 1,000 men have been circumcised under a new campaign, he said.

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