Monday, September 28, 2020

Chobe District leads in HIV prevalence

The 2007 sentinel survey has revealed that the Chobe District remains one of the highest in HIV prevalence rates in Botswana. The survey released last week revealed that Chobe has a 45.6% prevalence rate, one of the highest in Botswana. The Chobe District has experienced an upsurge in the HIV prevalence rate from 42% in previous years.
At a recent ceremony in Kasane at which ACHAP was handing over ARV satellite clinics at Pandamatenga and Plateau and the Kazungula weigh bridge clinic, it emerged that the Chobe District is faced with a number of challenges that make the fight against HIV Aids a bit more difficult.
Dr. Shimeles Hamda, a Public Health Specialist in Kasane, said that the incidence of HIV in the Chobe District is exacerbated by the fact that Chobe is an international district that borders Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia. Hamda said that the Chobe District has a highly mobile population made up of travelers and tourists.

He also revealed that there is a high rate of prostitution in the area because of the presence of truckers who transport goods to and from the three countries bordering Botswana.

Hamda also said that monitoring of HIV Aids patients is also made difficult by the fact that the Chobe District is very large and disparate such that medical officers have to travel long distances to reach patients. However, he said that ACHAP has employed some condom focal persons and community representatives to help mitigate the worsening situation by distributing condoms and holding public education campaigns.

Speaking at the handing over ceremony, ACHAP Managing Director Dr Themba Moeti said that the Kazungula weighbridge clinic is strategically placed to provide integrated and readily available services to mobile populations, in particular long distance truckers.

An ACHAP Program Officer in Kasane, Minkie Bokole, told The Sunday Standard that the clinic will operate outside the normal working hours and provide comprehensive services so as to accommodate the highly mobile population at the Kazungula border. She revealed that they are faced with the challenges of heightened rates of prostitution. Bokole also revealed that the Southern African Development Community was embarking on a project called the corridor of hope through which HIV/AIDS mitigating services will be provided to any SADC citizen anywhere within the region.
A social worker at Kasane, Kesupile Nthomiwa, revealed that men have also taken on the challenge and are now at the forefront of the fight against HIV Aids in the Chobe District.

“With the help of men’s sector we have initiated a program called ‘the real man’, which is aimed at molding men and encouraging them to be responsible partners who practice safe sex and are supportive of their partners,” he said.

He also added that they regularly organize football tournaments at which they invite national team players to encourage voluntary testing amongst men in the Chobe district. “We also contributed audio visual equipment to the Kazungula weighbridge clinic,” he said.

Meanwhile Bokole added that their efforts are slowly bearing fruit as they are now observing a positive response from the Chobe community. “People are now coming forth to seek information and treat sexually transmitted infections. Our community mobilization projects are also slowly bearing fruit,” she said.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.