Friday, October 23, 2020

Botswana close to achieving UNAIDS 90:90:90 goal

Botswana which is one of the most HIV/AIDS burdened countries in Africa is likely to achieve the ambitious UNAIDS 90:90:90 goal. This emerged at the recently held 21st International AIDS Conference themed “Access Equity Rights Now” which was held in Durban from the 18th -22nd July 2016.

The 90:90:90 is an ambitious UNAIDS goal that; by 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; by 2020, 90 percent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and by 2020, 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

It has emerged that Botswana is close to reaching the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets for HIV/AIDS knowledge of status, treatment and virologic suppression which are currently at 82%, 86 and 95% respectively.  

In Botswana, the HIV epidemic is widespread among the general populace however there are several key populations that are hardest hit by HIV. There is increasing effort at a national level to support these key affected populations, although legal and punitive barriers still exist, making HIV prevention and support efforts challenging. 

Amongst her remarkable achievements, Botswana was the first African country to adopt the “Treat All” strategy which is amongst the arsenal to end  HIV/AIDS.  In spite of all the progress, Botswana, now a middle-income country faces many challenges including constricted funding and “blanket” approaches to HIV/AIDS intervention.

In an interview with Al Jazeera recently, Botswana’s minister of Health Dorcas Makgato said the youth, the girl child, in particular, is the demographic which remains the most vulnerable to HIV in Botswana. “For me, if you say key population there is this whole debate of key population being confined to what others want it to be. I must focus on the youth, because they are the leaders of tomorrow. They are the ones that are going to live much longer than us and we have to intensify our efforts and make sure that whatever our efforts are, our initiatives are, we are listening to the voice of the youth, weÔÇ║re in alignment with what works for them,” she said.

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