Vice President Slumber Tsogwane says notwithstanding progress the country is making against HIV and AIDS, there is much more ground that needs to be covered in fighting the pandemic.
He called on the nation to pay particular attention to population groups most at risk of contracting HIV such as female sex workers and their clients, men-who-have-sex-with-men, adolescent girls and young women and victims of gender-based violence, among others.
Recently, Botswana participated in a SADC meeting for National AIDS Councils Directors in Johannesburg and received positive feedback for progress being made in removing legal impediments to access to services by key populations and addressing human rights issues.
Tsogwane said the meeting was particularly pleased with the country’s Court of Appeal judgement delivered in November 2021 on same-sex relationships which has paved the way for legal reforms in Botswana that will benefit key populations.
In addition to addressing legal and human rights issues, concerted effort still has to be made to achieve a marked decline in new HIV infections among key populations, which can be attained by prioritising them in the programming for service provision.
"We continue to experience a disturbing trend in Botswana of the high burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), this calls for our concerted effort as stakeholders to address the situation”.
Tsogwane commended the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAHPA) and the Ministry of Health for creating the necessary awareness among Batswana on the dangers of NCDs.
The second meeting for 2022/23 of the National AIDS and Health Promotion Council, Tsogwane is taking place at a time when the world is openly acknowledging progress Botswana is making in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
The International AIDS Conference that took place in Canada from the 27th July to the 2nd August, 2022 also showered Botswana with accolades for being one of the few countries in the world that have achieved the UNAIDS targets for HIV testing, treatment and viral suppression.
The conference noted Botswana’s remarkable achievement of 98 percent viral suppression among people who are enrolled on HIV treatment. This means Botswana is on course to achieving epidemic control and ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
"Besides giving us useful feedback about progress the country continues to make in the fight against HIV, the message emanating from the conference was reassuring to partners that their investment in Botswana’s HIV response is yielding the desired results,” Tsogwane told the Council.
It is also a message of great encouragement to Civil Society Organisations involved in the HIV response.