The latest results of the fifth Botswana AIDS Impact Survey (BAIS V) show significant progress in containing the HIV epidemic, but the data also reveals that Central Mahalapye now has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the nation at 33.3%.
In the 2013 BAIS IV survey, Selebi Phikwe topped the HIV prevalence list at 25.1%, Francistown came in second at 23.1% and Central Mahalapye was ranked third at 20.2%.
A study conducted in Mahalapye titled “Reasons for inconsistent condom use by young adults in Mahalapye, Botswana” discovered that factors contributing to inconsistent condom use by young adults included “lack of knowledge of benefits, less fear of contracting HIV and AIDS as it can now be controlled with medication, influence of tradition, alcohol and drug abuse, peer pressure, power and gender issues, and the refusal of the partner.”
According to the research conducted by Luhaka Kanda and Robert Mash, “the current preventive campaign against HIV and AIDS needs to take cognisance of the factors affecting decisions on the use of condoms by young adults and the obstacles to their use, particularly the new belief that HIV and AIDS is no longer a significant concern.”
Among other things, the BAIS V preliminary report shows that Central Tutume is ranked second in HIV prevalence at 31.1 percent while Central Bobonong is third with a prevalence rate of 30.5 per cent. Gaborone had the lowest prevalence rate at 11.1 per cent.
BAIS V was a household‐based national survey among adults (defined as individuals aged 15 to 64 years) and children (defined as individuals aged 6 weeks to 14 years) conducted from March through August 2021 to measure the impact of the national HIV response.
The preliminary report notes that HIV prevalence in ten out of eleven age groups was highest among females except for the 0 – 14 age group. “HIV prevalence was 0.6% among females aged 0‐14 years and 1.0% among males aged 0‐14 years,” states the summary sheet.
States the report: “among adults aged 15‐64 years, HIV prevalence ranged from 2.7% for females aged 15‐19 years to 52.0% for females aged 45‐49 years, and from 1.6% for males aged 15‐19 years to 39.0% for males aged 50‐54 years. By 5‐year age groups, HIV prevalence was higher among females than males in each age group from ages 20‐24 years through 40‐44 years”.
The preliminary report also states that Selibe Phikwe has the highest viral load suppression (VLS) nationally at 100 per cent. All districts in the country recorded VLS above 85 per cent among adults living with HIV. Viral suppression refers to the percentage of people with diagnosed HIV who have less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood. Taking HIV medicine every day can make the viral load undetectable.
“Among adults living with HIV in Botswana, the prevalence of VLS ranged from 74.9% among females aged 15‐24 years to 96.5% among females aged 35‐44 years, and from 71.0% among males aged 25‐34 years to 97.4%among males aged 55‐64 years. VLS was higher among females than males at ages 25‐34 years and 35‐44 years,” states the summary sheet.
The survey estimates that there are 329, 000 adults living with HIV in Botswana with a HIV prevalence of 20.8 per cent. “ he prevalence of HIV among children aged 0‐14 years in Botswana was 0.8%, which corresponds to approximately 5,600 children living with HIV,” states the summary sheet. Among other things, the preliminary report highlights that Botswana surpassed all UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets for people with HIV.
BAIS V data is used to estimate national HIV incidence and national and district‐level prevalence of HIV and viral load suppression (VLS). The previous BAIS surveys were conducted in 2001, 2005, 2008, and 2013. The results from these five surveys provide critical information about national and district‐level progress toward control of the HIV epidemic.