7 November 2008

Namibia: HIV Infections are Increasing, Says Govt

Twenty-two years since the first case of HIV-AIDS was diagnosed in Namibia.

To date between 204 000 to 300 000 people have been now infected, Minister of Health Social Services Richard Kamwi said this week.

Speaking at the one-day consultative meeting on the National HIV-AIDS Prevention Strategy held in the capital, Kamwi said cumulative figures show that the death toll as of March 2008 to date stands at 3 790.

He said the unique gathering thus brought them together to focus their attention on the prevention of HIV as a cornerstone in the fight against HIV-AIDS.

"We are aware that all the stakeholders have put in place a number of prevention and management programmes.

Millions of dollars are annually pumped into the various programmes by government, with assistance from its development partners, the private sector and civil society," he said.

Notwithstanding all these efforts, it appears that the infection rate is on the increase globally.

"To this extent, UNGASS 2008 resolved at its last meeting held last November that member states should put more emphasis on prevention measures in order to curb the further spread of HIV infections", he noted.

UNGASS is a Declaration of Commitment on HIV-AIDS adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in June 2001.

"There is need to put more emphasis on behavioural change, increased knowledge on how to protect ourselves, reduce stigma and discrimination, redouble our efforts in counselling and testing, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, abstinence and adherence to our partners," said Kamwi.

According to Kamwi, of the HIV-positive women delivering annually, approximately 80 per cent receive ARV medicines for prophylaxis or treatment of HIV.

Kamwi also noted that this coverage rate is impressive, but there is a need to redouble efforts to ensure that all the HIV positive pregnant women receive ARV medicines for prophylaxis before delivery.

"There is no reason why we should fail on what we know is working," he said.


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