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HIV, Tuberculosis and silicosis threaten artisanal miners

HIV, Tuberculosis and silicosis threaten artisanal miners


At least 23,5% of artisanal and small-scale gold miners (ASM) who participated in a recent study by the United States Agency for International Development tested positive for HIV.

By Vongai Mbara

A total of 373 ASM participated in the research dubbed “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 for HIV.

According to the study, 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.

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“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. For those with normal chest radiographs, the 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 Africa among ASMs. The study showed that silicosis and TB in ASMs are a huge problem in Zimbabwe and are affecting the youth.

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