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National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA)
Botswana commits to 100% HIV free babies
16/01/15

The President of Botswana Lt Gen Seretse Khama Iam Khama says it is possible for Botswana to deliver 100% HIV free babies. Speaking at the Commemoration of the 2014 World AIDS Day in Masunga last month, the President said Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV is amongst Government of Botswana’s priorities. He said today the number of children born HIV positive in Botswana has been significantly reduced to about 4%, adding that this has been achieved through the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission.

President Khama expressed concern that three rounds of Botswana AIDS Impact Studies from 2004 revealed  that young people aged 10-14 increased their HIV prevalence 2.5 times when they reached around 20 years of age in 2013. He underscored the importance of recommitting and doing everything possible to reverse this worrisome trend of new HIV infections within the young population as well as addressing obstacles to behaviour change and ensuring that those living with HIV have the quality care, support and access to social safety nets they need to survive and thrive.
With one of the highest adult HIV prevalence in the world, the number of people estimated to be living with HIV in Botswana increased from 300,000 in 2008 to 320,000 in 2013. Given the policy of universal access to free antiretroviral therapy (ART) by Batswana, the treatment cost increased from P1.232 billion in 2009/10 to P1.655 billion in 2011/12. The president implored Batswana to reduce treatment cost by preventing all new HIV infections, saying that behavioural change is essential for us to achieve zero new infections.

As the clock ticks towards 2016, UNAIDS is galvanizing the world community to fast track the move in achieving the three zeros by setting ambitious targets to achieve by 2020: 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have durable suppression. It is envisioned that in achieving these critical targets at this level, AIDS will no longer represent a major threat to any population or country- which is, the status of ending AIDS.

Recent analysis from the Botswana HIV Investment Case developed by NACA and the Ministry of Health reports that prevention, the integration of HIV treatment, care and support into routine health services and keeping patients who are on ART alive must be among the highest priorities for our Nation, as this will optimize human resources and maximize the returns on investment.

World AIDS Day is commemorated on 1 December each year. It is a day specifically set aside to raise awareness, commemorate those who have passed on, call for action in the national response to HIV and AIDS and celebrate successes which have been achieved in accessing HIV and AIDS prevention and management services.
The day was first commemorated as World AIDS Day in 1988 when the World Health Organization designated it so. The day has since moved from being celebrated on a single day to a campaign which runs throughout the year. Its objectives are:

Raise and strengthen HIV and AIDS awareness.
Call for action and commitment to HIV and AIDS national response
Take stock of progress in the national response to HIV and AIDS

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