Zimbabwean politician creates uproar by saying women should make themselves less attractive to men to curb spread of HIV/AIDS
The United States foreign aid program that sends billions of dollars to African countries for HIV treatment and prevention has cut the number of people dying for any reason in those nations, a new study suggests.

A Zimbabwean politician has created an uproar by saying that women should be forced to shave their heads as well as to bathe less frequently to make themselves less attractive to men and, thereby, help curb the spread of HIV/Aids.

Senator Morgan Femai, an MDC-T (Movement for Democratic Change) senator for Chikomo, was attending an HIV awareness workshop in Kadoma, southwest of the capital Harare, when he made the remarks.

He claimed that by making themselves less attractive, women would help men to control themselves and resist their appeal.

"What I propose it that the government should come up with a law that compels women to have their heads clean-shaven like what the Apostolic sects do," ZimEye reported.

"They should also not bath because that is what has caused all these problems," he added.

The senator even suggested that female circumcision could help curb the spread of HIV.

"Women have got more moisture in their organs as compared to men, so there is need to research on how to deal with that moisture because it is conducive for bacteria breeding. There should be a way to suck out that moisture," he said.

Zimbabwe is still one of the countries worst affected by HIV/Aids, despite an annual drop in the rate of in new infections over the past 10 years.

Figures from 2009 showed that more than 14 percent of the adult population in Zimbabwe has HIV/Aids.

In the past decade, the government has launched a series of initiatives to raise awareness and prevention of HIV/Aids in a bid to help curb the spread of the disease.

In 2006, the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture, and the United Nations Children's Fund began a scheme to train primary and secondary school teachers about HIV and Aids, so that they could pass on the knowledge to their students.

From 2005 to 2010, the total number of health facilities offering HIV testing and counselling in Zimbabwe increased from 395 to 1,218.

Despite the progress that has been made, a survey conducted by the United States Agency for International Development in 2009 revealed that only 20 percent of the population knew their HIV status.

It is feared that Femai's recent comments will further undermine efforts to raise awareness and curb the spread of HIV.

Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association communications officer Merit Runema criticised Femai's comments. "As an organisation, we are disheartened to read that someone elected to represent people can utter such words," she said, adding: "It is clear the senator does not know HIV spreads.

"Femai's arguments are the ones used by rapists.

"We thought we had made great strides in HIV issues, but the lawmaker has shown us that more needs to be done."

The web site HIVaware provides information about HIV/Aids and transmission risks.