US commits N$475m to HIV/AIDS battle

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American Ambassador to Namibia Thomas Daughton yesterday announced that the U.S. government is committing an additional N$475 million over the next two years to Namibia to support a plan designed to accelerate HIV treatment services in areas of the country where HIV prevalence is the highest and where the need for treatment is the greatest.

The American ambassador announced the funding of US$34 million, which amounts to N$474 million, at an event held yesterday at Lüderitz to commemorate World AIDS Day.

Daughton, who said the time to conquer HIV/AIDS is now, hopes some of the accelerated funds will be instrumental in realizing the new Combination Prevention Strategy, which the Ministry of Health and Social Services launched yesterday.

He said that the U.S. government looked forward to investing in new HIV prevention strategies in the coming years and emphasized they’re able to take these bold new steps because of the accomplishments the Namibian government and Namibian people have already made in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

During the commemoration the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku, indicated Namibia has been a shining example of what national ownership and political commitment can achieve in the national response to HIV/AIDS.

In line with the concept of global solidarity and shared responsibility, Namibia is one of the only two countries in Africa that contribute to the Global Fund, while the government’s financial commitment to the AIDS response stands at an impressive 64 percent.

“This is the day when we honour all those who live with HIV and AIDS, and commemorate all those we have lost,” said Haufiku in a speech read on his behalf.
This year’s commemoration of World AIDS Day was held under the global theme Getting to Zero, with the sub-theme of Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS-Related Deaths.

As part of a UNAIDS-led campaign run from 2011 until 2015, this theme is backed by the United Nations and is applied all around the world.

Haufiku indicated that Namibia has demonstrated significant progress in HIV prevention, treatment and care. Since the epidemic peaked at 22 percent in 2002, Namibia has made steady progress.

The country launched the 2014 National Sentinel Survey that revealed that the overall national HIV prevalence rate among pregnant women attending antenatal clinics showed a slight decrease from 18.2 percent in 2012 to 16.9 percent in 2014.

The report indicated that by age group, HIV prevalence is highest among women aged 40 – 44 years at 30.6 percent and women aged 35-39 years at 30.3 percent, while HIV prevalence is lowest among younger women aged 15 – 19 years at 5.8 percent, and women aged 20 – 24 years at 9.8 percent.

The world has learned that effective treatment besides preventing death and improving health of individual patients also reduces the risk of transmission. This means that 90 percent of all HIV-infected individuals in the country should be identified through active HIV counselling and testing.

Haufiku wants Namibia still to focus on implementing approaches in preventing new infections among adults and children and prolonging longevity of people living with HIV.
At the same occasion UNAIDS Country Director Dr Tharcisse Barihuta said that by June 2015 about 15.8 million people worldwide had been accessing HIV treatment.

Overall new HIV infections have been reduced by over 35 percent since 2001. New infections among children have declined by 58 percent since 2000. Since 2000, 1.1million new infections have been prevented. AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 42 percent since they peaked in 2004.

December 1 is the world day to recognize and celebrate successes in the fight against HIV/AIDS, as well as for people to remind themselves of the need to redouble their efforts to get to zero new infections.

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