Eswatini Daily News


The World AIDS Day is commemorated annually on the 1st December worldwide. This day became the first ever global health day on its inception in 1988. It is estimated that AIDS has claimed the lives of approximately 35 million people worldwide since it was discovered in 1984 making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history. The World AIDS Day commemorates all the lives that have been lost to AIDS-related sicknesses.

This year the World AIDS Day is themed “Know Your Status” and the ENYC recognizes this day with full participation across all the four regions of Eswatini. Even though the country has made significant strides in the fight against the epidemic, the prevalence rate remains significantly high compared to other countries in the region standing at 27%. This is according to the Swaziland HIV Incidence Measurement Survey (SHIMS 2) report which was released in 2016. The report further highlights that the HIV prevalence amongst people aged 15+ years stands at 32.5% amongst females and 20.4% amongst males.

These statistics and others from previous surveys have necessitated employing numerous measures to control the epidemic through strengthening collaboration between government, strategic partners and civil society organisations. The ENYC through the HIV/AIDS programme is also playing a role in the fight against HIV/AIDS through numerous interventions aimed at mitigating the impact of the epidemic amongst young people.  These include Youth friendly programmes such as TuneMe (a mobile-site) where young people are advised on preventative measures and given counselling, the Life Skills Manual which empowers the Youth on making sound decisions in their life journey including their overall health and wellbeing, ensuring awareness of the consequences HIV/AIDS; rehabilitation and care for HIV/AIDS infected youths and youth orphans whose parents were victims of HIV/AIDS and mitigating the forces that drive the rapid increase in HIV infections amongst youth.

Moreover, it is important for people who are HIV negative to value their status so that they protect themselves and are smart when it comes to HIV prevention. On the other hand, Knowing that you are HIV positive enables you to seek treatment and adjust your lifestyle accordingly so as to ensure a happy, healthy and long life.

This year’s theme for the World AIDS Day speaks to knowing your HIV status. In 2014, the UNAIDS launched the 90-90-90 targets which state that 90% of people living with HIV should be diagnosed by the year 2020. Strengthening HIV testing is paramount if the country is to achieve this goal. Young people between the ages of 15-24, in particular, have demonstrated a high resistance towards HIV testing especially the male population within this age group.

This year’s World AIDS Day commemoration plays a pivotal role in mobilising and sensitizing people on the importance of knowing their HIV status ultimately contributing to the achievement of the first 90 of the 90-90-90 targets. As the 1st December approaches, we found it important that we share with you at least five reasons why it is important that you know your HIV status:

  1. If you find out that you are infected, you can make sure you protect your partner from becoming infected. If more people know their HIV status and use the knowledge to act responsibly, the pandemic can be better controlled.
  2. If you are pregnant and test HIV positive, appropriate treatment can reduce the risk of your baby becoming infected.
  3. Knowing your HIV status early gives one the opportunity to reflect on the advantages of taking treatment early whilst one’s viral load is still at its lowest, providing the opportunity to suppress the virus, this will ensure that an individual is less likely to transmit the virus whilst consistently and diligently taking antiretrovirals.
  4. You can help educate others about HIV/AIDS and improve their attitudes and behaviour related to the disease. Remember that giving out this information is entirely your decision. The health professionals and counsellors who conduct and discuss the test with you must, by law, keep the results strictly confidential.
  5. And last but not least, HIV testing in our beautiful Kingdom of Eswatini is easily accessible, private and confidential and made available through government health facilities, strategic partners and civil society organisations such as FLAS, PSI, AHF, MSF to mention a few.

“Know Your Status”….it is the right thing to do for yourself and for your loved ones.

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