2016 World AIDS Day Commemorated in Swakopmund

Thursday 1 December was the day of the Commemoration of World Aids Day under the theme “Hands Up For HIV Prevention” and this year the country wide commemoration took place in Swakopmund at Vineta Sports Stadium. This day is a day dedicated to the people living positively with the HIV/AIDS.

The commemoration of the 2016 World Aids day started with a march in Mondesa whereby all stakeholders and members of the community gathered at the open market near single quarters early on the morning of 1 December to march through the streets of Swakopmund towards the Vineta Sports stadium, where the official commemoration of the day was scheduled to take place. The crowd was led by the NAVY Brass Band, members of the Namibian Police Force, members of the Correctional facility and UN officials also joined the march in their vehicles.
“As the international community has done every year since 1988, this day serves as an opportunity to honour those whose lives have been affected by HIV/Aids. We remember those we have lost, but we also celebrate those who are striving to help Namibia become the first African country to achieve an AIDS-free generation” those were the words of the US Ambassador to Namibia Mr Thomas Daughton during the 2016 World AIDS day commemoration in Swakopmund. Daugton however said that he was not happy because the number of men who get tested for HIV/AIDS is very low compared to women, “but getting a man to test is only one part of the solution, another important part of the solution for men is circumcision. In the past year, more than 12 000 voluntary medical male circumcisions (VMMC) were performed in Namibia. That’s the most VMMC procedures ever performed in Namibia in one year”. He said that the science about circumcision is clear and undeniable. It is a one-time procedure that provides men with lifelong, partial protection against HIV and other sexual transmitted infections.
Daughton further said another group which is at a higher risk of HIV is adolescent girls and young women who account for 75% of all new HIV infections among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa and get infected at a much higher rate than adolescent boys and young men. He said in order to prevent HIV and achieve an AIDS-free generation, the nation have to address the risk to adolescent girls and young women. That means empowering adolescent girls and young women to protect their own health and well-being, to stay healthy and AIDS-free and to pursue their dreams. Daughton also said that another group at higher risk is what are called key populations: female sex workers, men who have sex with men, prisoners and members of the LGBTI community.
The Prime Minister of Namibia Mrs Saara Kuugongelwa- Amadhila in her keynote address said that since 1988, World AIDS Day has provided an opportunity for people across the globe to unite in the fight against the HIV-AIDS epidemic, to stand in solidarity with the 78 million people who have become infected with HIV and to remember the 35 million who have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the first cases of HIV were reported. She further said that HIV/AIDS imposes enormous economic, social, health, and human costs on countries. “The response to HIV/AIDS has led to long-term fiscal commitments that competes against a myriad of alternative developmental uses. HIV/AIDS impacts on the health care system by increasing demand for services in both quantity and complexity” she said. The Prime Minister further said AIDS related deaths create a generation of orphans which in Namibia increased to 182,000 children in 2014, from 54,000 in 2006. In the workplace, HIV/AIDS is causing increased absenteeism, loss of skills and knowledge with resultant increases in training outlays. It also rises costs for medical aids and pension funds and drains household savings.

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