Mozambique: Little Progress in Fighting Spread of HIV

A consultation with an HIV-positive patient, the first day of the full re-opening of MSF’s HIV programme in the Munhava health centre after Cyclone Idai struck Beira.

Maputo — Little progress has been made in preventing new cases of infection by HIV, despite the investment made in fighting the disease, Mozambican Health Minister Nazira Abdula admitted on Saturday.

Speaking in the central city of Quelimane, at commemorations to mark World AIDS Day, 1 December, Abdula said that over 90 per cent of HIV infections are caused by unprotected sexual relations. The underlying factors could include gender inequalities, alcohol and drug abuse, and stigma and lack of communication about sexuality inside families.

Among the constraints hindering progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS were the continuing low level of awareness of forms of prevention, the late arrival of pregnant women at health centres for ante-natal consultations and poor multi-sector coordination of the response to HIV.

Cited in Monday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", Abdula said the government has decided to prioritise combined actions to increase the level of knowledge of how to prevent the disease, and to urge people to change their behaviour.

Abdula said that currently 1.126 million HIV-positive Mozambicans are receiving the anti-retroviral treatment that can prolong their lives. Transmission of the virus from pregnant women to their unborn babies remains a major problems - Abdula said cases of mother-to-child HIV transmission only fell by one per cent last year.

The representative of UN-AIDS in Mozambique, Eva Kiwango, argued that home and community testing for HIV could be a strategy to ensure the early start of anti-retroviral treatment, and thus play a key role in the fight against the epidemic.

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