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Response to recent article in The Botswana Gazette entitled ...

The National AIDS Coordinating Agency would like to state that government of Botswana is committed to the elimination of stigma and discrimination that contributes to the spread of HIV and prohibits people from accessing available HIV and AIDS services.

The government is committed to ensuring that HIV positive Batswana continue to live meaningful lives and remain active players and contributors to the country’s economy. It is however regrettable that some people living with the virus and already on treatment continue to engage in risky behaviors exposing themselves to re-infection and putting others at risk of contracting HIV.

Further, it is unfortunate that in some instances, the very same HIV and AIDS services provided by the government and other stakeholders at a huge cost are seen as incentives for risky behaviors. Numerous studies have revealed that while there are slight improvements in the younger age groups, (15-19 years), many people are still being infected in Botswana. Government is concerned about this phenomenon hence the huge investment on prevention programmes. 

It is against this backdrop that His honor the Vice President Lt Gen Mompati Merafhe’s remarks at last week’s National AIDS Council, (December 3, 2010) implored Batswana living with the virus to take individual responsibility to prevent new infections, to adhere to treatment and to desist from engaging in risky behaviors that could reverse the gains the country has made in the fight against the epidemic.

It is highly unfortunate that the Vice President’s remarks were quoted out of context and interpreted to imply that people living with HIV are not normal.
The number of Batswana on treatment has surpassed 150 000 and the HIV and AIDS budget for 2010/2011 financial year amounted to P1,3 billion. With the newly infected adding to the already existing numbers, the cost of treatment will no longer be affordable.

Civil Society Organizations, the private sector, the media, development partners and the community at large have rallied behind government to take services to the people and promote equity in issues of access and human rights. It is the responsibility of every player to continue to play their part in order to eventually contain the spiraling cost of the national response to HIV and AIDS.   

As we strive to address intricate issues of the current complex era, we call on everybody to continue to meaningfully contribute to this important course. Only collective effort would see us through this war. Individual effort can only contribute to one big whole.

It is the responsibility of every individual, infected or affected, HIV positive or negative to individually commit and contribute towards zero new infections by 2016.

Lorato Mongatane
NACA Principal Public Relations Officer
Should you require any additional information, do not hesitate to contact the Public Relations Office at 393 6249, 3710314 or lomongatane@gov.bw.


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