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Infection rate drops

 Botswana’s new HIV infections are estimated to have dropped from 13 000 in 2010 to 8500 in 2018.

This is according to the 2019 UNAIDS Global report .

Speaking at the World AIDS Day commemoration in Maun December 1, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi said while the achievements were commendable, they were far from the required global targets of reducing annual infections by 75 per cent in order to attain epidemiological control by 2020.

With regard to AIDS-related deaths, Dr Masisi said indications were that they had decreased from an estimated 7300 in 2010 to 4800 in 2018 due to the excellent treatment programme in Botswana.

“We also need to be reminded that these figures were as high as 18000 per annum at the peak of the epidemic in the early nineties. Currently an estimated 370 000 people in Botswana are living with HIV, with a national prevalence rate of 18.5 per cent. Females are more infected at 20.8 per cent compared to males at 15.6 per cent,” said Dr Masisi.

The President said though the numbers were high, it was comforting to note that about 91 per cent of pregnant women accessed the Anti-Retroviral Therapy programme.

He said Botswana had consistently led the world in ensuring a low rate of mother to child transmission, currently estimated to be the lowest in the region at 2.5 per cent.

“This shows that our efforts are bearing fruit, and ending AIDS is achievable if we can reduce vertical transmission of HIV to below one per cent,” he said.

Dr Masisi also noted that from the just released UNAIDS Global report, which gauged Botswana’s progress towards achieving the 90-90-90 treatment targets, on the first 90, which is the percentage of people living with HIV who knew their status, the country was at 91 per cent.

On the second 90, that is those who know their HIV positive status and are on treatment, the country is said to be at 92 per cent, while for those on treatment and are virally suppressed Botswana is at 96 per cent.

The President therefore noted that as a country, Botswana had exceeded all the three 90s target and must use the achievement as motivation to now focus on the 95-95-95 targets.

Furthermore, Dr Masisi said Botswana was among the 28 members of Global Coalition on HIV Prevention which was established in 2017 and the country had set itself ambitious targets which would take it to the attainment of zero new HIV infections and bring an end to AIDS by 2030.

He said Botswana had committed itself to strengthen response strategies to be more community-led and rights based so that no one was left behind in the process.

The focus for the HIV prevention roadmap building up to 2020, Dr Masisi said was on HIV primary prevention, the promotion as well as the provision of effective tools to prevent HIV infections.

He further noted that in order to achieve the targets, the emphasis was to empower communities as change agents so that they could play a crucial role in HIV treatment and care.

“It is in this regard that the key principles to attain the 2020 targets should be based on community led interventions through their engagement at all levels,” said the President.

Meanwhile, the President said events such as World AIDS Day commemoration provided an opportunity to Botswana as a nation to introspect on its successes and drawbacks during the arduous journey that the country had taken since 1985 when the first case of HIV was discovered in Botswana.

This year’s event was held under the theme; Communities Make the Difference, which encouraged and applauded the role that activists, peer educators, people living with HIV and AIDS, sex workers, young men and women, counselors, and community health workers among others play in the fight against AIDS. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Kabo Keaketswe

Location : MAUN

Event : world AIDS day

Date : Dec 01 Sun,2019

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