18 December 2012

Namibia: Youth Getting Message On HIV and Aids

Windhoek — The Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Petrina Haingura, has commended young people for embracing HIV prevention messages and "for their great efforts in behavioural change".

Haingura was speaking at the announcement of the 2012 Sentinel Survey results in Windhoek. There has been a significant decline in the HIV prevalence rate among women aged between 15 and 24 years, according to the 2012 Sentinel Survey results. The prevalence rate declined from 14.2 percent in 2006 to 10.3 percent in 2010 and now to 8.9 percent in 2012. The sentinel survey looks at pregnant women who go for antenatal care services at state health facilities. The antenatal care-based sentinel survey is currently the key data source for HIV estimates in the country. The sentinel survey is conducted every second year with the 2012 survey being the 10th since independence.

"But we need to do much more still, since we want to see zero new HIV infections, particularly among Namibia's youth," Haingura remarked. Haingura also said that government has adopted a multi-sectoral approach that calls for committed participation of all stakeholders in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

"This underscores the focus that the government has taken in giving the fight against HIV/AIDS a top priority in all its undertakings," said Haingura.

The Deputy Minister also touched on the fact that Namibia has joined the global movement to eliminate new HIV infections among children by 2015.

Furthermore, the sentinel survey indicates that an overall 41.4 percent of all women who tested HIV positive during the survey were already on antiretroviral therapy. The percentage of HIV positive women who were already on antiretroviral therapy is lowest in the age group 15 to 19 years with 6.8 percent. The figure is highest in older age groups with 66 percent for HIV positive women in the age group of 35 to 39 and 63.5 percent for HIV positive women in the age group of 40-49 years. "It is clear that the fertility rate among women on antiretroviral therapy is high," she said. This, she said, is sufficient reason to start with the implementation of the latest World Health Organisation guidelines to start HIV treatment in all HIV positive pregnant women and to continue the treatment for life.

"This will further decrease AIDS-related maternal and child mortality in Namibia," she said.

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