HIV/AIDS in Namibia


HIV/AIDS in Namibia

Namibia has an HIV prevalence rate of 19.6 percent in adults ages 15 to 49 and shows signs of HIV epidemic stabilization. The primary mode of transmission is through sexual contact and mother-to-child transmission. Data compiled by the Ministry of Health and Social Services show that AIDS became the leading cause of death in Namibia in 1996. It is estimated that AIDS accounts for at least 50 percent of deaths among individuals ages 15 to 49. There is great variation in HIV prevalence rates from region to region in Namibia. Infection rates also differ by gender, with UNAIDS estimating that women account for 58 percent of all HIV infections. Other at-risk populations include migrant workers, people in prostitution, street children, and long distance drivers.

Namibia is the second most sparsely populated country in the world. Providing comprehensive HIV/AIDS services to the mostly rural population requires a fully decentralized, community- based approach with strong policies and leadership from the central level. Insufficient numbers of skilled technical personnel and limited managerial capacity at all levels exacerbate the challenges of decentralization, and access to services remains limited for those living in sparsely populated areas. As the country with the highest level of income disparity in the world, poverty poses a major challenge. The United Nations reports that the poorest 20 percent of Namibia’s population earns only 1.4 percent of the national income versus the richest 20 percent of the population that earns 78.7 percent of the national income. Household food security and access to services are limited for the vast majority of the population. There is a considerable need for expansion of health services in particular, including community- and home-based care programs, HIV testing and counseling services, and support for orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs). Trucking, shipping, mining and fishing industries generate labor migration that is contributing to the spread of the epidemic. [http://www.pepfar.gov/pepfar/press/81636.htm "2008 Country Profile: Namibia"] . U.S. Department of State (2008). Accessed August 25, 2008. PD-notice]

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