Botswana moves to tackle complex HIV situation

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Botswana government has approved to reduce the age through which
individuals would be deemed capable of giving informed consent for HIV
testing as part of a National Policy on HIV/AIDS. And, whilst more men than women are getting tested for HIV compared to earlier years, the percentage of first time testers who tested positive has reduced drastically.

Botswana government has cut the age bracket through which
individuals would be deemed capable of giving informed consent for HIV
testing as part of a National Policy on HIV/AIDS from 21 to 16 years; A move that has been viewed as major development by youths who have long complained that the previous 21 year cut off was an “impediment for knowing their status”

According to media reports from the diamond rich country, some provisions of the new policy from the National AIDS Coordinator are that citizens who are living with HIV will be able to access education, insurance, legal and financial services, housing and employment without being subjected to any form of discrimination.

Commented Richard Matlhare, the National Coordinator of the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA), “Heterosexual transmission is still the key mode of HIV infection in Botswana but it is however, interesting to note that we are beginning to experience signs that the epidemic might have already matured into a complex one that requires us to answer increasingly more complex questions”

Through partnerships with donor community and the private sector Botswana has been assisted with a loan amounting to US$ 50 million by the World Bank with a contribution of US$ 20 million from the European Union to meet the interest of the loan over a five-year period, reports say.

Though Botswana is hugely challenged by the high rates of HIV/AIDS, Matlhare said it was encouraging that the latest quarterly updates show that the percentage of first time testers who tested HIV positive has reduced from 32 percent in 2005 to 13 percent currently.

It also shows that more men are testing than women compared to earlier
years when it used to be the other way round.

“There is also a general decline of repeat testers who test positive from 8.7 percent in 2007 to the current 4.9 percent with stabilising trends across the quarters. The updates also show that routine HIV testing uptake continues to increase with a declining pattern for those who are HIV positive,” reports say.

But new infections continue to be experienced and the national prevalence of 17.6 percent and incidence rate of 2.9 percent are comparatively high and unsustainable.

Health file  The lack of education and political will, poverty, out-moded traditional beliefs, to mention but a few, have been widely blamed for causing severe and sometimes unwarranted health catastrophies of genocidal proportions on the African continent. Child killer diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, water borne diseases, HIV/AIDS, among other preventable ailments have killed millions in their wake. As rightly said by the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, on May 13, 2000 "More people (...) died of Aids in the past year (1999-2000, ndlr) in Africa than in all the wars on the continent".
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