THE number of men with multiple sexual partners has increased over the last five years, while that of women with similar sexual traits has remained static, albeit very low, over the same period, statistics have shown.
Data from the latest Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey (ZDHS) shows that the practice of having multiple sexual partners was more prevalent among divorced, separated, or widowed women and men.
The average number of sexual partners between 15-49 years has been noted to also increase slightly with increasing education and wealth. A four percent increase in the number of men who have more than two sexual partners in the period under review was noted. In 2015 about 14 percent of men were reported to be having more than two sexual partners up from about 10 percent recorded in 2010.
At least three percent of women and 21 percent of men who are either divorced, separated, or widowed are reported to be having two or more sexual partners compared to one percent and 18 married women and men respectively.
“More men than women report having two or more sexual partners (14 percent and one percent, respectively). Among men, this is a small increase from the 2010-11 ZDHS where 11 percent of men reported having two or more sexual partners while among women, there was no notable change. Having two or more partners is more common among divorced, separated, or widowed women and men compared with married women and men,” the survey notes.
It further posits that the practice of having multiple partners was slightly more common in urban settlements than in rural settings.
However, the number of men with multiple sexual partners who use condoms has also gone up during the period under review, although it remains relatively lower compared to that of women with similar sexual behaviours.
According to the survey’s findings, there has been a four percent increase in condom usage among men with two or more sexual partners, and a two percent increase among women with similar traits. Condom use has also been observed to be higher among the educated and wealthy.
At least 50 percent of women with two or more sexual partners use condoms up from 48 percent recorded in 2010 while 37 percent of men with two or more sexual partners reported to using condoms up from 33 percent in 2010.
“Among those reporting two or more sexual partners in the past 12 months, condom use at last sex was 50 percent for women and 37 percent for men. Men aged 15-19 were more likely to report condom use (71 percent) than men in other age groups. Among men reporting two or more sexual partners in the past 12 months, condom use has a positive association with education and wealth,” reads the survey report.
In 2014, the National Aids Council (NAC) reported that usage of condoms was high in Zimbabwe compared to other countries in Africa, with over 109 million condoms distributed that year. The increase in safe sex practices between 2010 and 2015 could be credited for the drop in the country’s HIV incidence rate in the same period. A total of 57 300 new HIV infections were recorded in 2015, dropping from 77 300 recorded in 2010.
“The 2015 ZDHS shows that the uptake of the Voluntary Male MC programme has been effective, especially among men 15 to 19 years old,” reads the report.
The number of young men between 15 and 24 years circumcised shot up from 6,5 to 18,8 percent. The ZDH also shows that the country is on course to surpassing the 2020 Target on contraceptive usage targets as more women continue to embrace the family planning methods, a survey has shown.
Statistics show that Zimbabwe’s married women top the list on the use of modern contraceptives in Africa. The data shows that the number of married women using contraceptives has increased by 14 percent since 2010. The report says the country is on track in terms of achieving the 2020 Target of 68 percent contraceptive uptake.