A study has found convincing evidence of an HIV decline accelerated by changes in sexual behavior in Zimbabwe, an African country ravaged by HIV/AIDS.

HIV prevalence fell in Zimbabwe over the past decade—from 29.3 percent in 1997 to 15.6 percent in 2007. Reductions in the proportions of men and women with non-regular sexual partners and sustained high levels of condom use during this period likely contributed to the decline in HIV prevalence.

Estimates indicated that HIV incidence may have peaked in the early 1990s and fallen during the 1990s; and multiple local and national surveys showed substantial rises in AIDS-related deaths during the 1990s leveling off after 2000.

However, AIDS-related deaths in Zimbabwe remained at crisis levels in the mid-2000s, according to the study.

1. Gregson S, Gonese E, Hallet TB, et al. HIV decline in Zimbabwe due to reductions in risky sex? Evidence from a comprehensive epidemiological review. International Journal of Epidemiology 2010; 39(5): 1311-1323. (open access)