Financial Times Examines Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Botswana
The Financial Times on Tuesday examined efforts to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Bostwana. According to the Times, HIV in Botswana spreads primarily because of alcohol use, sex with multiple partners and the high mobility of the population. The country in 2001 "hit a grim world record" when it recorded an HIV prevalence of 38.8%, the Times reports. Since then, Botswana has been a "trailblazer in its efforts to tackle the epidemic," according to the Times. Botswana's four-year-old antiretroviral drug distribution program "has begun to mitigate the deadly impact" of HIV/AIDS in the country, and Botswana in 2005 was one of three African nations that met World Health Organization treatment targets for the number of HIV-positive people receiving antiretrovirals, the Times reports. In addition, HIV testing has been routine in the country since 2004, and more people are undergoing HIV tests because they know treatment is available, according to the Times. In 2005, statistics from antenatal clinics showed that the nation's HIV prevalence had decreased to 33.4%. Experts continue to "voice frustration" over the slow pace in controlling the disease, the Times reports. "We are not seeing a decline in the prevalence rate commensurate with the level of effort by the leadership," Kwame Ampomah, UNAIDS country coordinator, said, adding, "It's easier to put in place a treatment program than to have an effective prevention program." According to Tendani Gaolathe -- co-director of the Princess Marina Hospital in the capital, Gaborone -- remaining challenges include ignorance and stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. A 2004 survey conducted in Botswana found that one in eight respondents ages 10 to 64 could name three ways to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV. To address this problem, local HIV/AIDS experts aim to increase public awareness about the disease and ways to prevent its spread, the Times reports (White, Financial Times, 6/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.