HIV positive women more than HIV positive men in Namibia

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

The Minister of Health and Social Services, Kalumbi Shangula revealed on Sunday that the number of HIV infections is disproportionally high among females compared to their male counterparts. The prevalence is high among women at 15.1 percent compared to 8.4 percent in men, he said.

Shangula said that an estimated total of 215 348 people in Namibia are living with HIV. This number includes adults and children.

“The latest HIV prevalence among adults 15-49 years is 11.8 percent. It is estimated that a total of 7 193 Children less than 15 years are living with HIV,” Shangula said.

According to Shangula, seven regions are reported to have higher HIV prevalence above the National prevalence in descending order from the highest. These regions are Zambezi (21.6 percent ), Oshikoto(17.1 percent ); Omusati (15 percent ); Kavango East(14.7 percent ), Kavango West(14.7 percent ), Oshana (14.5 percent ) and Ohangwena (14.3 percent ).

Conversely, the prevalence is lowest in Kunene at 7.1 percent and Omaheke at 7.3, Shangula revealed.

The minister also confirmed that Namibia has successfully reached its UNAIDS 95-95-95 percent target rates of HIV testing, suppression and treatment as well as efforts towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

In December 2020, UNAIDS released a new set of ambitious targets calling for 95 percent of all people living with HIV to know their HIV status, 95 percent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection to receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 95 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy to have viral suppression by 2025. Namibia was awarded the target on Friday in South Africa by U.S Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy overseeing the U.S President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Shangula said the strategy for HIV prevention is scientific, sound , effective, appropriate and sustainable.

“It is a key principle in disease prevention and control epidemiology to fight a pandemic, an epidemic, or a disease outbreak. One should know the epidemiology of that disease in terms of person, place, and time. Person refers to socio-demographic characteristics of cases and includes variables such as age, ethnicity, sex/gender, occupation, and socioeconomic status. Place refers to the geographic location, for example region, district or town where the cases are reported. Time refers to the date, week, month or year when cases were reported. We have always used the above principle in monitoring and controlling the HIV epidemic in Namibia,” he said.

Furthermore, he said Namibia is facing another epidemic leading to premature deaths and disability, the Non- Communicable Diseases. Stroke and cardiovascular diseases are Namibia’s second leading cause of morbidity and mortality, mostly commonly uncontrolled Hypertension and Diabetes.

“Therefore, we need to intensify public awareness in our communities, especially emphasizing the importance of early and regular screening and treatment initiation without delay. The Ministry is expanding screening and treatment and integration with other services. In addition, the Ministry will expand Hypertension screening at the Community level by Community Health Workers,” he said.

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