In a bid to tackle the alarming rate of HIV in more than 40 prisons in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) says it’s considering distributing condoms to prison inmates.
Not only that, the organization is also considering carrying out mandatory HIV tests in prisons in order to bring down the rate of the deadly disease.
Speaking at the 4th annual Zimbabwe Uniformed Forces Health Services Conference in Victoria Falls on Wednesday, Retired Major General Paradzai Zimondi stated that the distribution must take place irrespective of the inmates’s hostility towards the plan.
He added that efforts were being made to lobby for a legislation which would mandate ZPCS to distribute condoms and test inmates for HIV and Aids.
“We once carried out a survey but they questioned why we should give them condoms when they don’t share cells with female inmates.
What we require now is a legislation which we can use as a legal instrument and my plea is that you discuss this issue in this meeting. This is an issue that can be discussed at policy making level and I am giving you the expressway to discuss and recommend for the way forward,” Zimondi said.
The ZPCS boss in addition, enjoined representatives of uniformed forces from Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania and Zambia to
also take a look at the issue.
The 3-day conference which held under the team: “Psychosocial impact of HIV and Aids on national security: Strengthening synergies locally and beyond” was attended by over 200 local and regional delegates.
However, this development did not go down with most Zimbabwe prison inmates who objected the distribution, maintaining that such move is irrelevant since they don’t share prison rooms with their female counterpart.
Speaking also, Constantine Chiwenga, Commander of Zimbabwe Defence Force General, asserted that HIV and Aids remains a security threat to Sub Sahara.
Statistics revealed that HIV prevalence in prisons across the southern African country stood at 28%, according to a report by ZPCS quoted by the Chronicle newspaper.
Prior to this move, Zimbabwe’s Health Minister David Parirenyatwa had postulated last year that the prevalence of HIV and Aids showed that people were jailed while already infected or that there was “rampant” homosexuality behind bars.
According to the health ministry, Zimbabwean prisons are considered a”special sector” because of a high prevalence rate for
HIV among inmates.
“The rise of HIV prevalence in prisons shows that it is either these prisoners are infected already before they get into prison and if not then it means homosexuality is rampant in prisons,” Parirenyatwa said.
His comments however sparked off anger among gay rights organisation in the country. According to the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), the issue of HIV and Aids in prisons has nothing to do with homosexuality.
Zimbabwe President, Robert Mugabe had severally condemned homosexuality and lesbian in the country. The valiant head of state also slammed people who indulge in such practice. In fact, he said people who take part in such activity are “worse than pigs and dogs”.