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HIV Infections Decline In Somalia

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) –  Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevalence rate of infection in Somalia has been dropping over the last 14 years, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday.

Citing periodic surveys conducted, the WHO warned that in spite of the general decline in HIV prevalence across Somalia, there were locations such as Garowe and Bosaso in Puntland in northern Somalia where the infection rates had merely levelled off, with the risk of increasing yet again.

“Early testing and treatment can help people with HIV to battle this disease in good time,’’ said WHO Representative to Somalia, Mamunur Rahman Malik, in a statement issued to mark World AIDS Day in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

This year’s global World AIDS Day, which fell on Wednesday, is being held under the theme “End inequalities, end AIDS”.

However, WHO said findings of a 2014 survey shows that the HIV prevalence in Somalia had reduced to a level that could be classified as a low-level epidemic in all the states.

Meanwhile, the most recent survey, conducted during 2018, showed that average antenatal HIV prevalence across the country stood at 0.1 per cent for all states.

“By geographical area, it was at 0.15 per cent in Somaliland, 0.17 per cent in Puntland and 0.04 per cent in other federal member states,’’ it said, adding that the next survey among pregnant women is scheduled for 2023.

“The low HIV prevalence in Somalia can be attributed to Somali culture and society, and few risk factors as a result of behaviour,’’ said National HIV/AIDS Programme Manager, Sadia Abdisamad Abdullahi.

Abdullahi said that HIV remains a major public health issue and is still a pandemic around the world.

WHO is calling on global leaders and communities to rally to address the inequalities that drive AIDS and try to reach those who do not have access to essential HIV services.

It said the growing inequality, if not addressed, can only fuel and aggravate the divide between those having access to HIV testing and services and those who do not have access to testing, treatment and care.

“We must all work together to put an end to inequalities that leave Somalis out of the health service system.

“Decision-makers, health facilities, families and individuals all need to provide support to people living with HIV and prevent the spread of this disease,’’ she said.


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