One-third of Zimbabwe’s teachers are HIV-positive


(Harare, Zimbabwe August 10, 2005) Teachers are relied on to counsel their students about AIDS, but statistics indicate they are no more knowledgeable about avoiding infection than other Zimbabwean adults.

“Teachers are at high risk of getting infected with HIV and AIDS, and already one-third of them are likely to be infected with the virus,” according to a report presented by a state-appointed education assessment team.

The rate among teachers mirrors Health Ministry statistics showing an estimated 27% of Zimbabweans aged 18-49 are infected with HIV, with at least 3 000 deaths a week.

Southern Africa is at the epicenter of the global Aids pandemic.

The shock contents of the report follow another report which concluded that at least 55 percent of Zimbabwe’s troops were HIV-positive.

The report was delivered to a workshop considering introducing HIV and AIDS awareness classes at teacher training colleges and into the junior and secondary school curricula.

“There seemed to be an assumption that the teachers are so knowledgeable about HIV and its transmission that they are willing to talk about it with their students, and that all teachers will make acceptable counselors and mentors,” said Josiah Mahlangu, national commissioner for the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Zimbabwe.

Teachers had been viewed wrongly as persons who just delivered the curriculum, without bearing in mind “the teacher was also very much at risk,” Mahlangu said.

Zimbabwe has almost 80,000 teachers and at one stage 3.8 million children in school, although enrollment is believed to have dropped due to current economic hardship.

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