Although the Southern African Development Community (SADC), some would say with much zeal, has made much progress with regards to all aspects of HIV prevention and management, the bloc is still the worst affected by HIV globally.
According to the 2020 Gender Barometre, a flagship publication of the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance, “SADC, which has 4.6% of the world’s population, is home to 45% of all people living with HIV in the world.” Among the SADC member states, Swaziland has the highest infections with 27 percent, followed by Lesotho with 22,8 percent, Botswana is in third with 20,7 percent, South Africa with 19 percent and Zimbabwe with 12,8 percent.
The report also says 42.2 percent of sex workers in Botswana are HIV positive, adding that 75.7 percent of sex workers in Botswana use condoms which make the country the 4th best in the region. For men who have sex with men, the HIV prevalence rate is 14.8 percent, while condom usage among the same group is 77.5 percent.
The percentage of those living with HIV who are on ART is 82%; women aged 15 and over receiving ART is 93% and men aged 15 and over receiving ART is 71%.
“All countries are far off course in terms of meeting targets for reduction in new infections. The largest number of new infections is in South Africa, which comprises 12% of new infections globally while Mozambique contributes 8%. Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Botswana have the highest incidence rates per 1000 population,” says the report.
The Gender Barometre report also says that in 2019 SADC accounted for 55% of new infections in young women and 35% new infections in young men globally,” reads part of the report. The report also highlights that sixty five (65) percent of the global number of pregnant women that were on ARTs are found in SADC. Furthermore in 2019, “48% of people on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and 55% of children on ART globally,” are from the regional bloc.
As expected, the coronavirus pandemic has had a tremendous impact on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission and HIV services. “Covid-19 is disrupting Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) services. This could lead to an additional 500, 000 deaths in sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2021 and regression of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme to levels of a decade ago,” says the report.
SADC also accounts for 36% (618,600) of the global total of 1,700,000 new infections which is “three times higher than the target for 2020 at global and SADC level which would lead to ending AIDS by 2030.”
The report also says the “total number of new infections declined from 645,700 in 2018, with 355,900 adult women and 241,500 adult men to 618,600 in 2019; 337,990 women and 218,280 men.“