Mahalapye — Botswana’s UN resident coordinator, Mr Zia Choudhury says Botswana will miss the 2020 fast track target of reducing new HIV/AIDS infections by 75 per cent.
In his pre-recorded World AIDS Day message that was delivered during the 32nd World AIDS Day themed: Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility in Mahalapye on December 1, Mr Choudhury said by 2020, the country’s new HIV infections remained high with an estimated 9 500 new cases in 2019, which was a 34 per cent reduction.
New infections among adolescent girls and young women aged 15 to 24, constituted 24 per cent of the estimated 9 500 new infections in 2019, while new infections among adolescent boys and young men aged 15 to 24 constituted 10 per cent of new infections, less than half the number of adolescent girls and young women.
“This translates to about 43 new infections per week among adolescent girls and young women and 19 new infections among adolescent boys and young men, which means that young women have a prevalence rate twice that of young men,” Mr Choudhury said.
This year’s World AIDS Day theme, Mr Choudhury said, called on countries to step up their effort to achieve healthy societies. He stressed that leadership and engagement of communities was instrumental in the success of HIV/AIDS response.
Furthermore, Mr Choudhury expressed a concern that the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated the challenges faced by people living with HIV/AIDS in accessing lifesaving healthcare.
The world’s attention this year, he said, was focused on the novel pandemic, which had shown how health was interlinked with other critical issues, such as reducing inequality, human rights, gender equality, social protection and economic growth.
COVID-19, he said, had also revealed the entrenched inequalities existing in societies by widening the socio-economic inequalities and increasing the vulnerability of marginalised groups to HIV/AIDS.
“The pandemic has demonstrated that during a pandemic no one is safe until everyone is safe. Living people behind is not an option if we are to succeed. Like many other pandemics, this health crisis is hitting the poorest and most vulnerable people the hardest,” stated Mr Choudhury.
Eliminating stigma, discrimination, putting people at the centre and gender responsible approaches, Mr Choudhury said, were also key to ending the colliding pandemics of HIV/AIDS and COVID-19.
“However, this crisis has also been a wakeup call to do things differently. The defeat of HIV/AIDS, as a public health threat, depends on how the world responds to COVID-19,” he added.
When lighting the candle of hope, First Lady Neo Masisi said the commemoration was a way of spreading the message of love, hope and light to different communities around the country.
She said it also signified the importance of love to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. “It is also a reminder of our loved ones whom we’ve lost to the pandemic over the years.’
Lighting of the candle, she said, represented hope, which was an anchor for people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as those affected by the pandemic.
“People living with HIV/AIDS need love and support from every one of us, their friends, families and community,” stated Ms Masisi.
She also stressed that living with HIV should not prevent one from living, loving, dreaming and making contribution to the world and to Botswana. This light of love and hope, she said, should be kept burning in many people living with HIV/AIDS and the nation at large.
“Let this light be a confirmation to us that one day we will become victorious in ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Let us all continue in the shared responsibility of fighting this scourge. Let us continue to keep safe from COVID-19, which also presents itself as a pandemic,” she added.
To the adolescents and young people who account for new HIV/AIDS infections, the First Lady urged them to continue making a difference as promised by joining in the commitment to end HIV/AIDS by 2030 t.
Source : BOPA
Credit: Source link