Thirty HIV community cadres in Tsholotsho district received bicycles from the National Aids Council (NAC) to assist them to reach far-flung areas within the district.
Speaking to CITE, the District Aids Coordinator, Kelvin Tshuma said the district has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the country.
He said the main drivers of the epidemic in the district are spousal separation, multiple concurrent partnerships, low condom uses among partners in long-term relationships, transactional sex, age mixing, low-risk perception and high prevalence rates of gender-based violence.
Tshuma said the bicycles will enable the community cadres who were previously walking long distances to reach patients to be mobile.
Tshuma said the cadres are part of the SASA and Brotha2Brotha models.
“The main thrust of the SASA program is to mobilize communities to inspire social change by supporting them through the change process. The main aim is to prevent Gender Based Violence particularly violence against women and children (VAW),” he said.
“Violence against women is both a cause and consequence of HIV infection. For many women, the violence they experience leads to HIV infection. For others, their HIV positive status brings violence. The root cause of this problem is the imbalance of power in relationships between women and men, girls and boys. SASA is based on the understanding that violence against women does not occur in isolation but within families, communities and societies,” he said.
Tshuma said the aim of the Brotha2Brotha program is to use the peer-to-peer approach to promote positive male norms and encourage the uptake of health services such as VMMC, HTS, consistent condom use, reduction of sexual partners, GBV and early marriages by boys and young men in their communities.
“The B2B mentors are given soccer balls and trained on HIV and AIDS issues, they then educate their male counterparts during training sessions,” he said.
Meanwhile, the cadres expressed gratitude to the bicycles saying this will make their work easier.
“As SASA champion I was experiencing a challenge of reaching out to the whole ward since the areas are far apart, the bicycles will make our joy easier,” said Lynet Nkomo.
Mendson Dube from ward 7 said the cadres used to walk a distance of more than 20km to conduct dialogues.