October 25, 2017

Is The Tide Turning?

When data from Swaziland was presented at the recent International AIDS Society’s international conference, “the room erupted into hoots and applause,” according to Science magazine.

The kingdom’s massive investment in testing and treatment has cut the rate of new infections almost in half.

“These findings are cause for celebration,” says Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiologist at Columbia University whose group helped conduct the surveys. “It’s a dramatic blunting of new infections.”

A seven-month survey, funded by PEPFAR and completed in March, found that 73.1% of the infected population now has fully suppressed virus, and the HIV incidence had dropped to 1.4% — a 44% decrease.

In addition to ramping up treatment, the country also has seen big increases in men opting to be circumcised, a proven way to lower the risk of becoming infected by the AIDS virus.

One serious challenge that remains: Only 2/3 of HIV-infected people in the 15- to 24-year-old age bracket know their status and of those, only some 80% are receiving antiretroviral therapy.

As the only national initiative solely focused on providing testing and treatment to this young population, Young Heroes’ healthcare program will continue to play a crucial role in facing this challenge.

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Swazi Cycle 8

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Swazi Cycle 8 | May 2018