Karasburg — About 428,798 condoms have been distributed in //Kharas Region during the 2016/17 financial year in an attempt to prevent the transmission of HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases.
Condom promotion and distribution is one of the main programmes rolled out by the Ministry of Health and Social Services, together with other basic programmes such as social behaviour change communication, HIV counselling and testing, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission.
And the senior medical officer of Karasburg District, Martin Tshisunta, said the programmes have helped reduce HIV prevalence in the region.
Speaking at the recent commemoration of World AIDS Day at Karasburg, Martin said the ministry has put measures in place and rolled out programmes of these kinds to battle HIV/AIDS, and the results show that the region is on the right track, as there was a slight reduction in the HIV prevalence rate in 2017.
"The HIV prevalence rate, which was at five percent the previous year (2016), came down to 4.4 percent, representing a decrease of 0.6 percent, as 13,522 people were tested for HIV and 596 tested HIV positive," he said.
Martin noted that despite the distribution of condoms to all health facilities, through outreach services and public outlets, combined with health talks and demonstrations on condom use, more still needs to be done as cases of sexually transmitted diseases were worryingly still high.
"STI cases treated in the reporting period were still high, and therefore health education on condom usage needs to be strengthened to prevent STIs and HIV," he said.
//Kharas regional health director Barth Mutenda said the reduction in HIV prevalence can be attributed to a few factors such as the region's ability to enrol HIV-positive people on early ARV treatment, which suppresses the disease and also decreases the transmission rate, while condom distribution and behavioural change can be the other factors.
"We think this is due to people behaving responsibly, in that they are using the condoms, especially those meeting with people they are aware are HIV positive, and we commend them for this," he said.
He added that the prevention-of-mother-to-child programme is a huge success in the region.
"All babies born to HIV-positive mothers are born HIV negative, which contributes to the reduction of the HIV-prevalence rate, as the new generation is born without the virus."