National Aids Coordinating Agency (NACA) Director Grace Muzila told reporters on Monday that Botswana’s HIV prevalence rate among the youth has dropped over the years.
“There has been decline in HIV prevalence among younger age groups over the years. HIV prevalence among the 20-24 age cohort declined from 12.3 percent in 2008 to 10.3 percent in 2013,” she said.
Muzila added that another decline was recorded among 25-29 year olds from 25.9 percent in 2008 to 21.2 percent in 2013, “making the possibility of an HIV free generation a reality.”
┬áMuzila said the Botswana AIDS Impact Survey IV preliminary results have shown that less than 50 percent of the country’s youth have comprehensive knowledge to protect themselves from HIV infection; prompting all stakeholders, especially the media to intensify their efforts in opening channels of communication and fostering discussions about HIV.
Despite this, Muzila warned that, according to the results, nearly 50.6 percent of the country’s females aged 35-39 are living with HIV while males aged 40-44 had a prevalence of 43.8 percent,” she said.
She further added that “I know that the general feeling is that HIV and AIDS story is an old story despite our country having one of the highest prevalence rates in the world.”
The reports states that HIV prevalence amongst the married is higher among the males (26.3 percent) compared to females (18.7 percent) and also higher among never married females (22 percent) compared to never married males. Prevalence are similar for males and females in cohabiting (living together relationships at (34 percent).
The report also states that HIV prevalence sis also highest among females who are separated from their spouses (51 percent) compared to males who are separated (14.9 percent) and it is also noticeably higher among divorced females (34.5 percent) compared to male counterparts (27.8 percent).
According to the report, HIV prevalence was marginally higher among widowers (33.6 percent) compared to widows (22.8 percent).
The survey also shows that Botswana’s population aged 10-64 years who tested for HIV at least once was 70.2 percent compared to 56 percent from the previous survey.┬á In the 12 months preceding the survey, 63.7 percent of the population aged 15-49 had an HIV test and were informed of the results.
On circumcision, the survey noted that it increases with age, except at the age of 40-44 where there is a relative gap.
Deputy Statistician General Dabilani Buthali said they covered the entire country when conducting the survey except for Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Okavango Delta.
“We are not implying that it was not important to have covered those areas, but due to logistical challenges we were hamstrung and what I can say is that the results are credible,” he said.
Acting virologist at the Ministry of Health, Kgomotso Makhaola said many people responded positively to the survey as they were willing to be tested and informed about the results.