6 December 2012

Namibia: Windhoek Battles New HIV Infections

Windhoek — There are about 3.5 new HIV infections in Windhoek on a daily basis, while the daily infection rate for the entire country is at 22 new infections.

In Windhoek the larger percentage of new infections is in the informal settlement, where the HIV prevelance is also higher.

The end results are high poverty levels and social vulnerability, said the Deputy Mayor of Windhoek, Muesee Kazapua.

There is also a significant increase in AIDS-related deaths, a decreased life expectancy, and an increase in the number of orphans and vulnerable children, which results in child headed homes.

"The rate at which new infections occur per day is a clear indication that we must act," remarked Kazapua when addressing members of the Samora Machel Constituency at a World AIDS Day commemoration held at the Wanaheda sports field yesterday.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) country coordinator, Henk van Renterghem, said stigma and discrimination are drivers of new HIV infections.

Many people, especially those who are most at risk, are hesitant to go for an HIV test, procure and use condoms, and discuss their HIV status with partners, because of fear of discrimination. He further stated that discrimination against people living with HIV is deadly because it impacts on the capacity of people living with HIV to access and benefit from life-saving treatment.

Menesia Ndemumana, a mother of two who has been living with HIV for 15 years, asked that a moment of silence be observed in memory of people who succumbed to AIDS. "I know we are affected (by HIV/AIDS) even if we are not infected. We have lost loved ones as a result of this disease," she said.

She further said that it takes courage to get tested for HIV because "you don't know what the outcome will be. However, the outcome will determine how we should take care of ourselves."

World AIDS Day is globally commemorated annually on December 1.

The national commemorations in Namibia will take place on December 12.

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