New HIV infections among children high in Bots
Gaborone – Botswana’s National AIDS Co-ordinating Agency, NACA, has expressed concern about an upsurge of new HIV infections among children aged less than 16.
The Director of NACA, Grace Muzila, told reporters this past week that this is an indication that children are engaging in sex at an early age and do not use condoms..
Muzila also expressed concern that the decline in the use of condoms among the general population and an increase in the multiple sexual partnerships still remain a challenge. Only 65 percent of 15-24 year olds reported using condoms consistently, she said.
Muzila said some of the challenges include the increase in the number of young people having sex before the age of 15 years.
She also cited the high HIV prevalence and incidence among the most-at-risk population saying that 62 percent of female sex workers are living with HIV. Other challenges, he said include the reduced donor funding due to the country’s middle income status.
“Despite these challenges, there are some achievements like the reduction in the incidence rates from 1.45 to 1.35 percent. We are worried that in absolute terms, the figures are still on the high side as we are talking of 40 new infections every day that translates to about 10 000 per year and the number remains high for a country of 2.1 million people,” she said.
Muzila said reduced HIV/AIDS related stigma as per results of the 2013 stigma index and less than 2 percent of the babies born HIV negative to positive mothers is an achievement. She noted that adherence rate is over 90 percent and that organisations are still worried about the 10 percent that is not adhering. Muzila said that although they are aiming for the positives, there are some challenges lying before their endeavours which are mainly linked with behavioural changes. UN-AIDS/NACA Community Mobilisation and Networking Officer, Irene Maina, said that they were working on a one-day testing campaign known as the 8 Hour Testing campaign (OHT). The campaign is aimed at testing 6 000 people in 10 avenues and is part of the Guinness world record to beat the one held by Argentina at 3733 people.
HIV/AIDS still remains the most significant social and public health problem in Botswana The country is experiencing one of the most severe HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world, affecting both urban and rural areas with equal ferocity.