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Mwanza blames high STIs prevalence on rail project

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A preliminary result of a three-year HIV Incidence Cohort Study (Hico) by Johns Hopkins in Mwanza has revealed that over 13, 800 people have been treated for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at the district facility.

But Mwanza District Health Office (DHO) said there is no cause for worry claiming the situation was only aggravated due to rise is sexual activities during the last three years when the Nacala corridor railway development project was in full swing.

The study, which started from November 29, 2012 and ended on September 22, 2015 with the aim to establish the rate of new HIV infections, showed that out of 13, 896 that were treated for STIs, 8,808 were females while 5, 088 were males. The common syndrome was AVD with 4, 465 cases.

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Mwanza DHO Raphael Piringu said Johns Hopkins came at the right time when the district had a lot of sex workers due to the construction of the railway project.

“They [John Hopkins] came at the right time when we were witnessing an influx of sex workers in the district, and the STIs [Sexually Transmitted Infections] increased. But since the project finished, the prevalence is going down, and now with new partners we have started a programme that is working with 633 sex workers whereby we are doing door to door STIs screening, ARV/HTC among others.

“This study has already made a difference in Mwanza because all those people with STI were being referred to this study project, and they provided us with the reagents that made our laboratory to compete with the international standards,” he said.

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He also thanked John Hopkins for facilitating the establishment of a cervical cancer centre at the facility saying they are no longer referring patients on cervical cancer to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre.

Field Director at College of Medicine, Sufia Dababhai thanked Mwanza hospital staff and other stakeholders in the district for their support during the HIV Incidence Study.

“The project is focusing on HIV research and also other infections as they relate to the HIV infected and uninfected community related treatment among others.

According to Dababhai, the research results of Hico are expected to be released in the next three months.

Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins has handed over various equipments they were using during the study to Mwanza DHO. Among the donated items include centrifuge machine, vortex mixer, printer and desktop computers among them.

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