HIV infections on downward trend – Lelatisitswe

Kabelo Adamson

Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness, Setlhomo Lelatisitswe, has told parliament that the country is registering fewer infections of HIV.

Responding to questions in parliament posed by the Ghanzi North lawmaker, John Thiite last Wednesday, Lelatisitswe said figures show the country’s HIV new infections is on the downward trend.

Thiite had wanted the minister to explain the status of HIV and AIDS in Botswana and to specifically state the number of new registered cases of HIV infections; the number of those enrolled for the Treat All programme and the current status of Antiretroval Therapy (ARVs) drugs at the Central Medical Stores (CMS) and health facilities across the country.

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“The HIV situation in the country shows that it is on the decline looking at the number of people found with the virus,” said Lelatisitswe, also Member of Parliament (MP) for Boteti East.

He said in 2019, about 15,491 people were found to be HIV positive while in 2020 14,033 new infections were recorded whereas last year 9, 565 new infections were registered.

According to the Assistant minister, over 300 000 people have been enrolled in the Treat All Strategy.

The Treat All Strategy was launched in 2016 by the government of Botswana aimed at promoting Universal Health Coverage and ensuring that all who test positive get treatment no matter their viral load or CD count.

Meanwhile, Lelatisistwe further informed parliament that the movement restrictions imposed at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic had affected many HIV patients as they could not attend the medical check-ups.

Responding to the status of ARVs at CMS and other medical stores across the country, Lelatisitswe said the supply of the life saving drug stands at 88 percent.

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He said what was a concern was that HIV positive people are included in those at a higher risk of dying after contacting COVID-19.
“This was the most worrying factor, fortunately it did not get as worse as we had imagined,” he said.

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