• July 14th, 2020

Nearing epidemic control: ‘Delayed papsmear results can be deadly’ …especially in women with HIV

WINDHOEK- Cervical cancer is a major cause of mortality for women with HIV and although papsmear is widely available in the country, delayed results can be deadly for women with HIV, the United States of America President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Pepfar) country director, Carey Spear says.  
“For decreasing morbidity and mortality, cervical cancer screening is a critical part of care and treatment for all HIV-positive women,” she remarked recently.

Spear made the remarks while explaining on the Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA), which is a cervical cancer screening technique that allows for the same-day detection of pre-cancerous lesions and in some cases, same-day treatment.  

She spoke during the Pepfar announcement of funding to Namibia revealing that the U.S government has committed N$1.2 billion for HIV programmes in Namibia. In order to screen as many women as possible for cervical cancer, seven centres are already fully equipped and trained to provide ‘screen and treat’ services thanks to Pepfar funding, said Spear. 

More equipment were procured for 17 more centres, she further revealed. “Three new treatment centers were established and there are plans to establish seven more by the end of September 2019,” Spear said.  
Additionally, 41 registered nurses and nine medical officers were trained.
Spear also noted that HIV remains the number of cause of death among Namibian adults for over a decade. Nearly 4000 Namibians will die from HIV in 2019, she further cited available statistics. 
“By September 2019, nearly 204 000 people living with HIV would be on antiretroviral treatment,” said Spear. 

Also, 12.6 percent of the adult population are living with HIV in Namibia. Additionally, 35.5 percent of people living with HIV have tuberculosis, she said. Hence, the programmes targeted at achieving epidemic control. Epidemic control is limiting the annual number of new infections in a country to less than the number of deaths among people living with HIV. 
Targeted testing

This basically means using information to help Namibia identify and test people who are most at risk of acquiring HIV, explained Spear. 

“The faster an HIV positive person is identified, the faster they can start on anti-retroviral treatment. Knowing your HIV status allows you to get on antiretroviral treatment and take actions necessary to not transmit HIV,” Spear commented, explaining that this would help the country in sustaining epidemic control. 

Recency testing
She also explained the new Point of Care (POC) rapid test, saying it can determine recent versus long term infections of more than one year old in 20 minutes. 

Spear explained that knowing where the most recent infections are occurring gives an understanding of where new infections occur and when the person might have been infected with the virus.  
“This helps the right people get tested and treated and provide prevention in a timely manner to stop further transmission and control the epidemic,” Spear explained. 

Multi-month prescription
This is when a stable, HIV-positive person can receive more than one month of antiretroviral drugs, therefore requiring them to visit the clinic on two or three times a year, explained Spear. 
This is important because it reduces the number of visits a person needs to make to a clinic for their anti-retroviral drugs and it increases the number of people who adhere to their antiretroviral treatment, the Pepfar country director noted. 

This helps to reach epidemic control as it “reduces the burden on health workers and reduces the loss to follow-up. The increased number of people staying on anti-retroviral treatment will reduce the amount of virus in their blood and decreases their chance of transmission,” explained Spear.  

Alvine Kapitako
2019-06-10 09:45:16 | 1 years ago

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