While giant strides have been made and continue to be made in research into transmission and the behaviour of HIV, some of the benefits of such research are yet to trickle down to some communities, some of which bear quite a burden from the infection.
It is generally understood that every household knows something about HIV transmission since they have a close or distant relative infected or affected by the virus.
It is against this background that there is an assumption that our understanding of the infection is quite high, considering the media messages that are given out daily warning people on the disease.
However, the proof of our understanding or lack of thereof on the infection, is in the area of behaviour change and general protection against infection.
Elsewhere in this issue we carry an article in which a male prostitute in Bulawayo revealed that many married prominent and well to do men were his customers.
The HIV positive man said he rarely hid his HIV status to his customers who range from students to businessmen but that the rich men that paid for his services preferred sex without a condom.
It would appear that there is a belief among this group of men that anal sex does not transmit HIV or that the risk is lower. How else would one explain such behaviour?
Since there is no natural lubrication in anal sex, the risk of rupturing blood veins is quite high and it would follow that this should pose a higher risk. What worries us is how casually these male customers approach the HIV issue, and it gets worse for those that are married and most probably go on to have sex with their spouses without any protection.
This could lead to the spread of the disease very fast. It would be difficult for such men, who live a double and secret sex life with other men, to practise safe sex. It also raises questions on how the male prostitute contracted the disease.
Just like in sex between men and women, it would seem with the increase in the number of gay prostitutes and clients, there is a need for more education among these groups to spread the safe sex message so that the country achieves its goal of ending Aids by 2030.
Also, while the prostitutes or other male partners could know more than their more powerful and resourced clients or partners, it becomes difficult to negotiate safe sex since what tends to motivate their actions would be the amount of money offered or the privileges they enjoy through being in a relationship with their partner.
It is our hope that such ignorance will not push back the major successes the country has made in the fight against HIV/Aids. Our plea still remains that couples should have regular HIV tests and should they test positive, they should follow medical advice and be put on anti-retroviral treatment to suppress the virus. Much of the help hinges on one getting tested. It is quite a shock that there are people that still prefer unprotected sex with HIV positive partners at a time when research is even shining the spotlight on the possible risk of sharing hair clippers.