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AT least 23,5% of artisanal and small-scale gold miners (ASM) who participated in a recent study tested positive to HIV, experts said last week.

About 373 ASM participated in the research, which was conducted by the United States Agency for International Development.

The research is titled Tuberculosis (TB) and silicosis burden in artisanal and small-scale gold miners in a large occupational health outreach programme in Zimbabwe.

Presenting findings of the study at the national conference on safety and health at workplaces, medical specialist Dingani Moyo said 90 of the participants tested positive to HIV.

The study said 52 (11,2%) were diagnosed with silicosis, while 4% had TB.

“Of the 373 ASMs, who were tested for HIV, 90 (23,5%) were HIV positive. Two-thirds (61%) of ASMs did not report any respiratory symptoms. 52 (11,2%) patients were diagnosed with silicosis. Mean age of 37 years with almost all ASMs with silica dust exposure was 95%,” Moyo said.

“ASMs, who tested positive for HIV, were 2,8 times more likely to be diagnosed with silicosis. The prevalence of silico-TB was 2,2% (10). The median duration of employment in ASMs of those who had abnormal chest radiographs was eight years. Those with normal chest radiographs, median duration of employment was five years,” Moyo said.

The purpose of the study was to evaluate the burden of TB and silicosis among ASMs in Zimbabwe.

It was the first such study conducted in Zimbabwe and in Africa among ASMs. The study showed that silicosis and TB in ASMs are a huge problem in Zimbabwe and are affecting young people.

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