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Nam HIV prevalence rate still high

Mon, 15 July 2013 01:21
by andreas kathindi

Namibia has a high HIV Aids epidemic throughout society.
Despite the fact that Namibia has made progress with regards to HIV infections, seeing a declining trend in new infections, the overall prevalence rate still continues to rise annually.
Namibia is ranked 6th in Africa with the highest adult prevalence rate in HIV infections with 13.4%.
This is in itself a step down from 2009’s annual report of a rank of 7 with 13.1%. Zambia who were ranked 6th in 2009 with a prevalence rate of 13.5% have now taken Namibia’s place previous rank with a decreased rate of 12.5%.
According to a UNAIDS report, “a number of Sub-Saharan countries with smaller populations but high HIV prevalence have made significant gains in averting deaths related to AIDS.
Botswana cut AIDS-related deaths by 71%, Rwanda by 68%, Namibia by 60%, Zambia by 56% and Burundi and Côte d’Ivoire by 51% respectively. Benin, Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Guinea, Lesotho, Malawi and Mali all reduced AIDS related deaths by one third.
Scaling up voluntary medical male circumcision has the potential to prevent an estimated one in five infections in Eastern and Southern Africa by 2025.
Despite this fact, and given its low cost due to it being a one-time arrangement rather than a life-long expenditure, countries, Namibia included, still allocate relatively low towards this service.
In Namibia, less than 5% of the target number of men had been voluntarily circumcised by end of 2011.
Minister of Health and Social Services, Richard Kamwi said that “Apart from treatment, care and support, prevention through voluntary male circumcision and awareness campaign targeted at minimising the further spread of HIV infection.
With over two babies being born positive each day in Namibia, HIV will remain an important cause of infant and child mortality and reaching the virtual elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (MTCT) target will require sustained effort.
Namibia has succeeded in reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, with 5% of infants born with HIV in 2012.
The modelled MTCT rate with breast feeding in 2010/11 is approximately 12% and is expected to reduce to 4% by 2015/16 if the current prevention efforts are maintained. This is a significant improvement compared to the 2002/3 rate which stood at 32%.
More than 83% of HIV exposed infants receive an HIV test within the weeks of birth and Namibia’s MTCT rate at six weeks is less than three percent.
With more than 120 000 Namibians living with HIV on treatment, representing an estimated coverage of 87% at CD4 eligibility threshold of 350 more work need to be done.
With the recent billion Namibian dollar grant from the Global Fund to the Namibian government, signed just last week for a period of three years, more improvement is expected of the nation.
Several campaigns will need to be facilitated and continued in order to proliferate these minor success.
Voluntary counselling and testing remains essential for HIV prevention as it is the entry point to other care and treatment services.
Only by accessing counseling and testing can people living with HIV learn their HIV status.
For those who test positive, referrals are immediately provided for ongoing support to health facilities and medical interventions.
The National Strategic Framework (NSF) aims to increase the percentage of people being counselled and tested for HIV and receiving results. During the 2011 period, 234, 800 clients were counselled, tested and received their results compared to an annual target of 62,000 in 2008.
Other campaign platforms include strategic media communication and condom distribution which tallied up to just over 27 million in 2011.  
The NSF’s target for 2015 is 55 million.