Botswana: Jwaneng HIV Prevalence Rate Up Three Percentage Points

Jwaneng — Jwaneng HIV prevalence rate has increased from 12.8 to 15.9 per cent, according to the latest Botswana National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS.

"We need to go back to the drawing board and see how we can work together as stakeholders to mitigate this alarming increase, especially on addressing issues of new infections, teenage pregnancy and the resulting stigma and discrimination," said Jwaneng deputy mayor Sunday.

Speaking at the launch of the month of prayer against AIDS in Jwaneng on September 1, Ms Olga Ditsie also noted that Botswana was still ranked third highest globally in HIV prevalence.

She said the church's involvement was vital in the resolve to fight HIV and AIDS as the majority of Batswana were religious.

Ms Ditsie implored church leaders to lead by example as failure to do so would likely lead to their followers losing hope.

The annual observance of the month of prayer, she explained, gave the nation a chance to introspect and evaluate its efforts in fighting the scourge adding that it was indicative of government's commitment to continue fighting the pandemic.

Ms Ditsie urged the community to take part in the mayor's 90-90-90 campaign which she said would be coupled with other initiatives such as church, ward, workplace and football testing in efforts to eliminate AIDS by 2030.

She cautioned that in the fight against HIV and AIDS, the nation should not let its guard down on non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes which needed to be fought with equal zeal.

Ms Ditsie however hailed the church for the key role it had played in fighting the HIV and AIDS scourge since its discovery in the 80s.

She said the church promoted initiatives such as abstinence before marriage, community values and sticking to one partner.

The efforts had not gone unnoticed, she said.

Jwaneng district AIDS coordinator, Mr Kebonyemodisa Watota said the purpose of the month of prayer was to promote behavioral change and pray against other societal ills.

He applauded government for its efforts such as provision of free HIV testing and ARVs at most health facilities across the country.

He urged the church to utilise the initiatives.

Meanwhile, Kgosi Lesang Khumalo of Jwaneng has said that as a religious nation, it was only right that Batswana turned to prayer in times of need.

She said the month of prayer now covered diseases such as cancer which claimed more lives than AIDS.

Unity in prayer, Kgosi Kumalo said, had the ability to heal and urged the nation to introspect saying scourges could be signifying that people were not living according to God's will.

"Even at home parents correct their children by punishment when they go wrong. It's a sign of love and not abuse, and so God will equally punish us when we go wrong because He loves us," she said.

Source : BOPA

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