Dr Haufiku wishes to eradicate Aids in Namibia by 2030

An estimated 210 000 people in Namibia are infected with HIV while about 150 000 are on Anti-retro-viral treatment in the public sector. This new statistic was revealed by Dr Bernard Haufiku, Minister of Health and Social Services, at the opening of the National Aids Conference in Swakopmund.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services aims to eradicate Aids in Namibia by 2030 and at the same time end Mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2020. “Many such MOU’s will follow soon. We have signed many bilateral and multi-lateral agreements in fast tracking HIV-Aids Prevention and saving lives,” said Dr Haufiku during his opening address.
According to the Minister the amount of people receiving Anti-retro-viral treatment does not include the private sector, which the ministry is busy integrating into its data. “We are left only with 26% or about 69 000 people, to reach our target of 90% of people estimated to be HIV positive who have not been tested yet,” he said. To achieve this goal the rate of testing needs to increase by 5.5% per annum. “This translates into testing about 18 000 people per annum or 1 400 people every month if for the next consecutive four years if we want to reach our targets,” he continued.
In this regard he called on Namibians to “gather courage this festive season and get tested”. To lead by example Dr Haufiku also decided to publicly go for HIV testing. “I have thought of it and experienced the fear and anxiety everyone goes through. This is not a brag or a public show off, but an exercise hopefully to motivate and encourage many men to take the test,” he said.
Over the past years Government made significant strides in combating the pandemic. One such achievement is the fact that only 4% of infants born to HIV positive mothers are HIX positive. “96% of these babies are born HIV negative, thanks to our strategy of testing all pregnant mothers and promptly starting those that are HIV positive on Mother to Child Prevention Regimes irrespective of the CD4 counts,” the Minister continued.
Furthermore Dr Haufiku called on Namibians “to ignore and throw out of their minds the hog wash and balder dash regarding recent media reports on male circumcision. The Minister was referring to “one self-confessed public health expert who claims that circumcision is ineffective against HIV transmission”. Various studies undertaken show that the risk of transmission from a woman to a man is less than 58% if the man is circumcised. “What more do we want?” he asked.
In an effort to further address the pandemic Dr Haufiku called on the Ministry to make condoms more readily available and provide them to sex workers and everyone else who need them. For him it is not good enough to openly display condoms at receptions. They should be put in special places such as consulting rooms where there are less people, in toilets and other private places. “We want condoms and information brochures to be at every roadblock come December 2016 and beyond,” he said; and added: “Let us go to night clubs, taxis, mini busses, sport tournaments and weddings and even funerals and spread the message and distribute condoms to everyone who need them.”

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