Bots records drop in HIV prevalence among youth
Gaborone – Botswana’s HIV prevalence rate among the youth has dropped over the years, the country’s National AIDS Co-ordinating Agency (NACA) Director, Grace Muzila, told reporters here in the capital Gaborone this past week.
“There has been a decline in HIV prevalence among younger age groups over the years. HIV prevalence among the 20-24 age cohorts declined from 12.3 percent in 2008 to 10.3 percent in 2013,” she said. Muzila added that a decline was also recorded among 25-29 year olds from 25.9 percent in 2008 to 21.2 percent in 2013, making the possibility of an HIV free generation a reality.
Despite this, Muzila said, nearly 50.6 percent of the country’s females aged 35-39 are living with HIV, while the prevalence rate among males aged 40-44 is 43.8 percent.
She revealed that there are up to 10 000-12 000 new cases of HIV infections annually.
Muzila said that an 18.5 percent prevalence rate has been recorded compared to 17.6 percent four years ago.
The country’s AIDS Impact Survey is aimed at updating the nation every four years on HIV estimates, sexual and preventive behaviour among the population aged six weeks to 64 years.
She said that it is also a great concern that at least 60 percent of sex workers are living with HIV.
However, she noted that HIV/AIDS-related deaths have reduced tremendously due to anti-retroviral treatment.
She further added that “I know that the general feeling is that HIV and AIDS story is an old story despite our country having one of the highest prevalence rates in the world.”
The report states that HIV prevalence among the married couples is higher among males (26.3 percent) compared to females (18.7 percent) and also higher among never married females (22 percent) compared to never married males. Prevalence is similar for males and females in cohabiting living together relationships at (34 percent).
The report also states that HIV prevalence is highest among females who are separated from their spouses (51 percent) compared to males who are separated (14.9 percent) and it is also noticeably higher among divorced females (34.5 percent) compared to their male counterparts (27.8 percent). According to the report, HIV prevalence was marginally higher among widowers (33.6 percent) compared to widows (22.8 percent).
The survey also shows that Botswana’s population aged 10-64 years who tested for HIV at least once was 70.2 percent compared to 56 percent from the previous survey. In the 12 months preceding the survey, 63.7 percent of the population aged 15-49 had an HIV test and were informed of the results.
On circumcision, the survey noted that it increases with age, except at the age of 40-44 where there is a relative gap.