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Health ministry reports major progress with HIV epidemic control

Health ministry reports major progress with HIV epidemic control

The Ministry of Health and Social Services announced that Namibia has achieved tremendous success in controlling its HIV epidemic through its HIV prevention and treatment programmes, particularly with the Namibia Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment (NAMPHIA).

The most remarkable finding reported in the initial analysis of the NAMPHIA data is how close Namibia is to reach the 90:90:90 targets. The results from the survey show that Namibia is currently at 86:96:91. This means that Namibia has already reached two of the three 90:90:90 targets, and is very close to reaching the third.

When analyzed by gender, women have already reached 90:90:90. This means that even though women in Namibia are more likely to have HIV than men, the women who do have HIV are also more likely to be tested, on treatment, and virally suppressed. This is excellent for women’s health, as well as the well-being of children born to HIV positive mothers.

HIV prevalence in adults aged 15-64 is 12.6%, which is a further decrease from the 2013 Demographic and Health Survey (DHIS) which reported a 14% HIV prevalence for ages 15-49 and 16.4% for ages 50-64.

Consistent with DHTS trends, NAMPHIA data show disparities by gender, with 15.7% HIV prevalence amongst women compared to 9.3% amongst men. Also, incidence of new HIV infections in Namibian adults has dropped by half of the estimate from just five years ago.

NAMPHIA was a household survey conducted during June to December 2017 throughout every region in Namibia. NAMPHIA offered participants HIV counselling and testing with return of results, and active linkage to care and treatment for those who tested HIV-positive.

The survey included laboratory testing in the field and collected information on risk behaviors and uptake of HIV prevention, care and treatment services. This was the first time Namibia conducted such a widespread HIV survey among 0-64 year old residents. Approximately 24,000 people participated.

The Ministry of Health and Services led the NAMPHlA survey in collaboration with the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) and the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP). The survey was supported by the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Stating that these achievements are outstanding, U.S. Ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson added that for the past 14 years, PEPFAR has partnered with the ministry to fight HIV/AIDS.

“We remain committed to helping Namibia maintain the progress achieved. PEPFAR’s attention now includes focusing on identifying and helping those people not yet reached, such as men who have not yet been tested, as well as young women, who disproportionately bear the burden of new HTV infections,” Johnson said.

About The Author

Donald Matthys

Donald Matthys has been part of the media fraternity since 2015. He has been working at the Namibia Economist for the past three years mainly covering business, tourism and agriculture. Donald occasionally refers to himself as a theatre maker and has staged two theatre plays so far. Follow him on twitter at @zuleitmatthys