200,000 Namibians living with HIV

BY ALLAFRICA.COM - Dec 04, 2019 at 0:50am 100

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Minister of health Kalumbi Shangula says there are more than 200,000 people aged 15 and above living with HIV in Namibia, with more than 50% of them being women.

Shangula revealed this during the commemoration of World AIDS Day, which was held at the Sam Nujoma Stadium, in Windhoek yesterday.

The event was globally commemorated under the theme: 'Communities Make The Difference,' while the national theme was 'Accelerating Efforts Towards Epidemic Control And Ending Aids In Namibia By 2030.'

World AIDS Day is commemorated to mobilise support for all persons living with the disease. The day also honours all people who have fought against the disease and those who have lost their lives to HIV-AIDS.

Shangula said the northern parts of the country are the most affected with Zambezi at 22,3%, Ohangwena at 17,9%, Omusati at 16,9% and Oshana at 15,8%.

According to the Namibia Population Based HIV Impact Assessment (NAMPHIA), a survey which was aimed at assessing the progress of Namibia's national HIV response, the country has reached and surpassed the UNAIDS 90:90:90 fast tracked targets - an ambitious treatment target to help end the AIDS pandemic.

"Prevalence has decreased to 12% and viral suppression has already surpassed international targets, especially among Namibia women," Shangula said.

He said adolescent girls and young women are among those with the highest rates of HIV infection.

During the event, Shangula also launched the National Paediatric and Adolescent HIV Care and Treatment Strategy for 2019-2030, a document which will help Namibia to enhance and improve the care of children and adolescents living with HIV.

Speaking at the commemoration, US ambassador to Namibia Lisa Johnson, said HIV-AIDS remains the number one cause of death in Namibia.

She said the Namibian government, along with support from their partners, has recently introduced the most advanced HIV treatment that was made available on 1 October, known as tenofovir/lamivudine/dolutegravir (TLD).

Johnson said the new drug has fewer side effects and is more likely to keep working than other HIV medications allowing those living with HIV to have long and healthy lives.

"If you are HIV positive, and you take your HIV medication daily, you will become virally suppressed, meaning the virus cannot be detected in your body and you cannot pass the HI-virus onto others," she said.

Speaking at the same event, first lady Monica Geingos encouraged the public to stop using technical terms when discussing matters relating to HIV-AIDS but should rather "speak to the community in a language that they understand and relate to." Speaking on information gathered from her 'Be Free' gatherings, Geingos called localised integrated data relating to issues such as the number of young girls falling pregnant and the number of reported statutory rape cases.

The 'Be Free' initiative was started by the Office of the First Lady in collaboration with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV-AIDS (UNAids) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in an effort to play a role in educating young minds.

Geingos encouraged parents to be honest and disclose their children's HIV status to them at an early stage.

"There are too many young people finding out that they have been HIV positive since birth in a manner that is not desirable. Too many young people are being told by their grandmothers and grandfathers who raised them that the pill they are taking daily are vitamin pills," she said.

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