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Ex-Dynamos star living with HIV urges footballers to prevent and start testing

Ex-Dynamos star living with HIV urges footballers to prevent and start testing

A former Dynamos player has urged footballers and athletes to stay away from risky behavior saying sport can lift you to dizzy heights but if you fail to deal with the fame, it can also cost you your health.

The 52-year-old who has been living with HIV since 2003, requested to use a pseudo name to protect the identity of his family who are not yet open to see him speak out about his trials.

Julius Chimuti said he was bitter for over 20 years as he failed to reconcile the life he lived at the peak of his powers at Dynamos and the change of routine that was required, adding that his faith ultimately helped him to move on.

“I had everything but I tumbled. However, I am content with what I have become,” said Chimuti who survives off menial jobs.

“It was unfortunate that there was never any education or awareness provided to players at Dynamos during that time. I am not sure if things have changed now, but I would urge sports administrators to put emphasis on HIV preventative measures and testing.”

The ex-footballer starred for Chapungu United before moving to Dynamos in the mid 1990s where he linked up with such players as Chamu Musanhu, Kalisto Pasuwa, Memory Mucherehowa and Masimba Dinyero.

“I managed to break into Dynamos first team in the mid-90s. The travelling was extensive, around Zimbabwe, across Africa but with that also brought the temptation of promiscuity. For the five years I was at Dynamos I had fame but I engaged in risky behavior.”

Chimuti confessed to finding out about his status in 2003 and said he has now come out into the open because other footballers with the virus are too afraid of the impact it will have on their lives.

Chimuti said he decided to reveal his HIV status to encourage athletes to avoid risky behavior and also realise that once you have tested positive for HIV, it does not mean the end of the world.

Chimuti was speaking during a National Aids Council workshop for Sports Journalists in Chinhoyi, organised to discuss how the sector can assist in the objective of ending AIDS by 2030.

Zimbabwe is gunning to achieve the UNAIDS goal to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, by intensifying its efforts to expand HIV testing services and access to life-saving treatment.

According to Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment survey (ZIMPHIA 2020), the prevalence of HIV among adults was 12.9 percent, which corresponds to approximately 1.23 million adults in Zimbabwe living with HIV in 2020.

Generally, the survey found that HIV prevalence was higher among women than men (15.3 percent vs. 10.2 percent).

ZIMPHIA 2020 found that 86.8 percent of adults living with HIV were aware of their status and of those aware of their status, 97.0 percent were on antiretroviral treatment. Among those on treatment, 90.3 percent achieved viral load suppression.