KEETMANSHOOP – HIV related deaths in //Karas region have reduced from between 50 to 60 percent to only 20 percent in the last two years.
The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the //Karas region Job Ndile revealed the data last Thursday.
Ndile highlighted that once Namibia introduces the radio immunotherapy currently being tested in South Africa that has proved to effectively kill the HIV virus then Namibia can fast-track its HIV alleviation programme.
He said 7 477 people tested positive between 2003 and 2012 of whom 65 percent are on anti-retroviral therapy. Of these figures 849 hail from Karasburg, 3 207 from Keetmanshoop and district and 3 421 from Lüderitz.
He also noted that mother to child transmission of HIV has also dropped significantly since 2008 when 8.9 percent of babies born from HIV positive mothers were HIV positive at 6 weeks and now over the last two years only two percent were infected.
Speaking at the graduation of 300 Women Action for Development (WAD) students in Keetmanshoop on Wednesday, he urged the graduates to guard their health at all cost and to be mindful of the fact that “no amount of skills or education can ever replace good health.”
He also informed them that despite the country’s achievements in the HIV fight the fact remains that Namibia and the //Karas region have been hit hard by the AIDS pandemic with a prevalence rate of between 8 and 15 percent.
Attributing the sharp decline of new infections to an increase in voluntary testing and awareness amongst community members, Ndile highlighted that a lot still needs to be done to get Namibia on the zero new infection rate bandwagon.
He further commended government’s commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS pointing out that the country’s medical facilities are equipped with up to date guidelines and trained staff who are frequently refreshed with new skills to be of sufficient assistance to the public.
By Jemima Beukes