According to health ministry, the HIV prevalence by gender, the number of HIV infections is disproportionally high among females compared to their male counterparts. The prevalence is high among women at 15.1% compared to 8.4% in men. This was said by the minister of health Dr Kalumbi Shangula on Saturday.The ministry held a press conference to brief on the award of recognition for remarkable progress made toward reaching the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets and ending HIV/AIDS by 2030.
According to a report released in January 2023, it is estimated that close to 215 348 people in Namibia are living with HIV in the general population.
The number includes adults and children, of which the latest HIV prevalence among adults 15-49 years is 11.8% and It is estimated that a total of 7 193 children less than 15 years are living with HIV.
Shangula indicated that among 14 regions, the Zambezi region is reported to be the highest with 21.6% followed by Oshikoto with 17.6% people with HIV.
He added that Namibia has been battling with HIV for 37 years now. “Throughout those years, Namibia has been making significant progress in controlling the HIV epidemic. It is these achievements that PEPFAR has recognized through the award. I can’t hold back the good news any longer,” said Shangula.
Based on the latest spectrum estimates released by the ministry, Namibia has achieved 92%-99%-94% of the UNAIDS 95% target. Meaning, among the estimated PLHIV, 92% are aware of their HIV status. Among PLHIV who are aware of their HIV status, 99% are on ART. Among PLHIV on ART, 94% are virally suppressed. With this Namibia has surpassed the 3rd 95% and is close to achieving the first and third 95 targets.
The Ministry has recently completed the review of the National Strategic Framework (NSF) for HIV/AIDS, interrogated data and had conversations with all stakeholders up to the community level to understand how far they have gone in the response and also to get a better understanding of who is left behind in this response. As a result, Shangula mentioned that a new National Strategic Framework for 2023/2024-2027/2028 has finalized and will be launched soon.
“We are entering an important period in our HIV response as we focus on reaching the last mile, the gap has narrowed, but finding those few cases requires targeted yet innovative approaches. The number of patients on treatment need to be sustained. We need to identify innovative strategies to keep those on treatment virally suppressed to capitalize on treatment as a prevention intervention maximally,” he narrated.
Furthermore, Shangula calls for all stakeholders, line Ministries, development partners; multilateral organizations; the business community, Women led organizations, organizations for people with disabilities, Youth-led organizations; men-led organizations, key population-led organizations, the Media fraternity, let engage and redouble our efforts to finish and end AIDS as public health threat together by 2030.
He urged Namibian to intensify public awareness in communities, especially emphasizing the importance of early and regular screening and treatment initiation without delay.