Mahalapye — Mahalapye Sub-District, host this year's World AIDS Day commemoration, has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the country at 33 per cent.
Speaking in an interview, Mahalapye District Health Management Team coordinator, Ms Thandi Kgosiesele said as of September, the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS and on antiretroviral treatment in the district was 21 347, out of which 13 559 were female and 7 788 male.
The highlight of this year's commemoration, scheduled for Cresta Mahalapye on December 1, will be pre-recorded messages by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and UN resident coordinator Mr Zia Choudhury as well as First Lady Neo Masisi's lighting of the candle of hope, also pre-recorded.
Global, Solidarity, Shared Responsibility in the Fight against HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 is the theme for this year.
The December 1 commemoration is held annually in a different district with high HIV/AIDS prevalence.
In 2019 and 2018, the day was commemorated in Maun under the theme: Communities make a difference and Mochudi under the theme: Know Your Status, respectively.
As a build up to this year's main event, a number of activities were held in Mahalapye and surrounding villages to mobilise the community, the most recent being the International AIDS Candle Light Memorial at Mahalapye main kgotla yesterday.
Other activities were a the Youth Pitso at Mahalapye District Hospital and a debate on HIV/AIDS issues at Madiba Senior Secondary School, both held in February.
The same month, a Men Pitso was held at Mahalapye District Hospital followed by the official launch of a Faith and Community Initiative Project in Botswana at Mahalapye Show Ground themed Standing on the Promises of God as we Fight HIV.
The project is a collaboration between government, through National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency and the US through its President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
It is aimed at learning and sharing best practices from faith based organisations by ensuring the entire village leadership and community members play a meaningful role in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Health and wellness minister, Dr Edwin Dikoloti, kick started the Month of Prayer Against HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 activities at Sefhare kgotla on August 30.
Over the years, in its commitment to achieve zero HIV/AIDS infections by 2030, government has introduced various programmes including Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission, the 90-90-90 campaign and Treat All initiative, which allows people who had tested HIV positive to immediately enroll for Antiretroviral treatment.
It is estimated that there are 370 000 people living with HIV in Botswana, with young people accounting for more new HIV infections.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>