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Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Zimbabwe HIV infection rate drops
Condom use is actively encouraged in Zimbabwe
There has been a drop in the level of HIV/Aids infections in Zimbabwe, one of the first countries in sub-Saharan Africa to record such a decline.

The UN-commissioned survey says that over two years, the percentage of those infected between the ages of 15 and 49 fell by almost 5% to 20.1%.

The decline is attributed to changing sexual behaviour and condom use.

But some 3,000 Zimbabweans still die each week of Aids-related illnesses, the state-run Herald newspaper reports.

"Girls are now delaying when it comes to starting sexual activity and almost everyone in the country has an understanding of what HIV is all about," Health Minister David Parirenyatwa is quoted by the paper as saying.

However, as a large number of people already have the virus, a drop in infection rates will take a whole decade to translate into lower mortality rates.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries hardest hit by the HIV pandemic - compounded by a sharp fall in living standards and an economy that has collapsed.

UNAids defends the reliability of the new statistics as it says they are based on a variety of studies by different organisations that have all reached similar conclusions.

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