Health Ministry gears up for World Aids Day

By Confidente Reporter

THE Ministry of Health and Social Services, Khomas Regional Council, City of Windhoek in collaboration with Regional AIDS Coordination Committee (RACOC) stakeholders will host the National World Aids Day & Khomas Regional Aids Conference from 2 to 4 December under the theme ‘Communities Make the Difference’.

World AIDS Day is commemorated each year on December 1 and is an opportunity for all community to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV/AIDS and remember those who have succumbed to this scourge.

Information from the Health Ministry states that the day marks a point of convergence of the global AIDS campaign, which is dynamic throughout the entire year. Through its worldwide recognition, the day is commemorated through multiple courses of activities aimed at re-emphasising the actions needed to reduce HIV transmission.

In Namibia the World Aids Day commemoration will reinforce sustainable efforts geared towards eliminating AIDS by the year 2030. The commemoration will include the Khomas AIDS Conference that aims to draw public attention to the inter-linkages between unemployment, gender-based violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS among adolescent girls and young women in the region.

The conference will also focus on scaling up young people’s involvement in addressing health and social issues affecting them.

The conference further aims to urge people to access HIV Combination Prevention services, to celebrate and recognize successful efforts employed in achieving epidemic control and to reinforce messaging on the combination prevention interventions for all programmes.

The conference should increase the level of public awareness on the need for behaviour change, promote safe sex page, increase public awareness on syndromic management of STI, as well as provide a platform for dialogue on challenges facing adolescent girls and young women.

“Namibia has made significant strides in responding to the HIV epidemic with 86 percent of PLHIV knowing their HIV status, 96 percent of the known HIV positives are on treatment and 91 percent of those on treatment are virally suppressed.

“Despite the progress, a high level of pre-treatment HIV drug resistance (exceeding the WHO threshold of 10 percent) has been observed, prompting the review of the first line ART to include integrase inhibitors.

“The Namibia Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment (NAMPHIA) which was a cross-sectional household-based survey was conducted between June and December 2017 to assess the progress of Namibia’s national HIV response.

“The survey, reported a national HIV prevalence of 12.6 percent among adults aged 15-64 years in 2017, while Khomas region’s HIV prevalence stood at 8.3 percent. The key dynamic to Ending AIDS by 2030 is a reduction in new infections, coupled with a fall in AIDS-related deaths. We have seen consistent improvement in both these measures over the life of the precious NSF, but we know we must achieve more.

“It is clear to all that we live in globally difficult economic times which put constraints on all areas of the economy. The health sector is not immune from this and the HIV response which has depended on external resources to a large extent, finds itself facing a future of reduced donor support. The government has started strengthening prevention programmes, which is critical in ensuring synergies and complementarity, especially relating to combination of such programmes and between specific interventions,” the ministry said in a statement.

The prioritised areas are Adolescent Girls and Young Women; Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP); Voluntary Male Medical Circumcision (VMMC); Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT); Prevention Programmes for Key Populations; Treatment, Care and Support (Provision of ART); Condom Promotion and Distribution, HIV Testing Services (HTS); Male Involvement and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections to Fight the HIV and Aids Pandemic.

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