AS the World marked the AIDS Day on Sunday, Tanzania and Rwanda stood out among East African Community (EAC) partner states after making a surge toward achieving HIV epidemic control.
While all the six members have the same targets of eliminating the disease and have embraced the '90-90-90, an ambitious treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic, different surveys show that Tanzania and Rwanda are well ahead, with South Sudan and Burundi lagging behind.
UNAIDS Country Director Mr Zekeng Achengui avails that by last year, adult HIV prevalence (ages 15-49) stood at 4.6 per cent while 62 per cent of people living with HIV in Tanzania, were virally suppressed.
Meanwhile, 78 per cent of people living with HIV across the country knew their status while 71 per cent of people living with HIV were on treatment.
Better still, 93 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV accessed antiretroviral medicine to prevent transmission of the virus to the baby, preventing 14,000 new HIV infections among newborns.
On the other hand, early infant diagnosis― the percentage of HIV-exposed infants tested for HIV before eight weeks of age―stood at 47 per cent as of last year.
AVERT says Tanzania has done well to control the HIV epidemic over the last decade, minimizing the impact of the epidemic.
As a result, between 2010 and 2015, the number of new infections declined by more than 20 per cent and the number of people dying from an AIDSrelated illness halved.
AVERT showered praise on the government for its extensive roll out of antiretroviral treatment medications, which has helped minimize the impact of the country's epidemic over the last decade.
Cash transfer programmes and increased availability of condoms have also been successful as prevention strategies in reducing the rate of new HIV infections in Tanzania.
The country has one of the largest needle-exchange programmes to help prevent the spread of HIV among people who inject drugs (PWID) in sub-Saharan Africa.
The tiny nation of Rwanda has an adult HIV prevalence rate of 2.6 per cent, down from the 3.3 in a survey conducted in 2015.
Prevalence of those between 15-64 years also has been reduced from 3.7 per cent to three per cent.
Rwanda leads in the viral load suppression with surveys showing that 76 per cent of all HIV-positive adults achieved viral load suppression. The figure surpasses the UNAIDS target of 73 per cent by 2020.
Rwanda also is edging closer to the UNAIDS 90-90- 90 as the survey revealed that 83.8 per cent of adults living with HIV were aware of their status, and of those, 97.5 per cent were on Antiretroviral Treatment, and 90.1 per cent had Viral Load Suppression.
In Kenya, UNAIDS Country Director, Ms Jantine Jacobi divulged that the percentage of people living with HIV among adults (15-49 years) in 2018 was 4.7. By last year, 89 per cent of people living with HIV knew their status while 68 per cent of people living with HIV were on treatment.
By 2016, 51 per cent of people living with HIV were virally suppressed as a result there has been 55 per cent decrease of deaths related to HIV since 2010.
Uganda won accolades in 1980s for the fight against HIV, but after services were reached most parts of the country, it seems there is complacency and President Yoweri Museveni has been warning the population, especially the youth - to wait, study and find the right partner at the right time.
As of last year, HIV prevalence among adults (15- 49 years) was 5.7 per cent. There has been a 58 per cent decrease in the number of AIDS-related deaths, since 2010.84 per cent of people living with HIV knew their status, 72 per cent HIV+ were on treatment while 64 per cent of people living with HIV were virally suppressed.
AVERT notes that there are many political and cultural barriers that have hindered effective HIV prevention programming in Uganda. As a result, new HIV infections are expected to rise in coming years.
UNAIDS says Burundi is not on track to ending AIDS by 2030. In 2016, Burundi had 61 per cent of people living with HIV accessing antiretroviral therapy whilst approximately 53 per cent had suppressed viral loads.
Among pregnant women living with HIV, 84 per cent were accessing treatment or prophylaxis to prevent transmission of HIV to their children.
Since 2010, new HIV infections have decreased by 54 per cent and AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 49 per cent. South Sudan has a HIV prevalence of adults at 2.5 per cent.
UNAIDS discloses that for 'The 90-90- 90 Targets' by last year - only 24 per cent of people living with HIV knew their status; 16 per cent of people living with HIV were on treatment.
Of all adults aged 15 years and over living with HIV, only 16 were on treatment, while only nine per cent of children aged 0-14 years living with HIV were on treatment.
56 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV accessed antiretroviral medicine to prevent transmission of the virus to their babies.
In the Eastern and Southern Africa region as a whole, there are 20.6m people living with HIV with seven per cent HIV prevalence.
New infections were 800,000; AIDS related deaths 310,000. Adults on ARVs are 67 per cent of the HIV+ with children at 63 per cent rate.