Staff Reporter WINDHOEK - Namibia has reduced the adult HIV incidence rate by 50 percent in the past five years since the UNAIDS 2012 estimates, according to the new data released on Wednesday in Amsterdam by the Namibian government, along with its international partners fighting the HIV epidemic. The new figures indicate that the HIV epidemic is coming under control in Namibia, said the statement issued by the International Centre for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP) at the US Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Namibia has achieved the highest level of viral load suppression among all HIV-positive adults, among the ten countries, of Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, that have released Population-based HIV Impact Assessment survey (PHIA) results, said the statement from the university. The ICAP, together with Namibia government officials, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), released the new data at the 2018 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, The Netherland. “The impressive findings from the Namibia Population-based HIV Impact Assessment survey demonstrate the government of Namibia’s successful commitment to confronting the HIV epidemic,” said Wafaa El-Sadr, who is the ICAP global director and Mailman School professor of Epidemiology and professor of Medicine. “The survey findings also provide a blueprint to guide HIV policies and programs in the country moving forward,” said El-Sadr. Results from the Namibia Population-based HIV Impact Assessment show that 77 percent of all HIV-positive adults have achieved viral load suppression, a widely used measure of effective HIV treatment in a population, surpassing the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) target of 73 percent by 2020. Compared with the UNAIDS 2012 estimates, Namibia has reduced its adult HIV incidence rate by 50 percent in the past five years. Namibia has made this tremendous progress by either reaching or exceeding the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets among women and, nationally, by attaining 86-96-91 among adults. Namibia accomplished this through the strategic expansion of HIV prevention and treatment services, with a focus on viral load suppression at the individual and community level, and the swift implementation of forward-leading HIV policies. “These exciting new data demonstrate that a community-centered approach results in high community viral suppression, which decreases the rates of new HIV infections. Several African countries are now on track to reach HIV epidemic control by 2020, accelerated progress that was only possible because of partner country political leadership and their rapid adoption of policies focusing on primary prevention and treatment resources for maximum impact,” said Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy. “Together, we are making the impossible possible, moving further and faster toward ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030,” said Birx. The Namibia Population-based HIV Impact Assessment results also suggest that women aged 15-24 still have a far higher HIV incidence rate (0.99 percent) than same-aged young men (0.03 percent) in the country. This highlights the continued need for expanded primary HIV prevention in young women, including through the PEPFAR-led Determined, Resilient, Empowered, Aids –free Mentored, and Safe (DREAMS ) programme, and ensuring all men 25-35 are virally suppressed, such as through the new MenStar Coalition. “The results of this survey demonstrate the importance of providing innovative, data-driven prevention, care and treatment to those affected by HIV,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield. “CDC continues to support Namibia’s efforts to control its HIV epidemic – and we remain committed to global efforts to change the course of the HIV pandemic and help save lives,” said Redfield. The PHIAs evidence important advances being made under the PEPFAR Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control (2017-2020). Other countries surveyed show varying levels of progress toward reaching the viral suppression target of 73 percent, highlighting key areas for improvement, particularly the need to increase the coverage of HIV testing among adult men, adolescent girls, and young women.
New Era Reporter
2018-07-27 09:01:03 6 months ago