Access to services beyond HIV is critical UNIADS
Dr. Riak Gai Kok, Minister of Health signing MOU with Michel Sidibe, the Executive Director of UNAIDS (Photo by Woja Emmanuel Wani)
By Woja Emmanuel Wani
The Executive Director of the United Nations Joint Program on Aids (UNIADS) Mr. Michel Sidibe has said that access to services beyond HIV is a very critical factor.
“When you don’t have education, you don’t have knowledge, you don’t have information you don’t protect yourself. So access to all these is a very important aspect,” Mr. Sidibe said yesterday during a meeting with the minister of health.
Mr. Sidibe said that his visit was to raise the urgency and profile of the HIV epidemic/response in the humanitarian situation in South Sudan nationally and globally.
The visit also aims at advocating for prioritizing HIV among many urgent and competing priorities; join the political leadership to invest more in the HIV response, protection and upholding of human rights, addressing Gender Based Violence-GBV, domestic funding and advocate for the high-level commitment of the government across all line ministries to fast track the response.
Meanwhile the Minister of Health Dr. Riak Gai Kok appreciated the high profile visit of the UNAIDS undersecretary general and pledged to work in collaboration with UNAIDS to commit the government to prevent more HIV infections.
The report presented by Dr. Victoria Achut, the HIV/AIDS Program Manager in the ministry of health indicates a slight decrease in the trends of the virus in the country. She said there was a remarkable reduction in new HIV infections from 16,000 in 2016 to about 14,000 clients in 2017 as attributed to the test treat policy adapted by the country.
The report also provided that there were about 13,000 HIV infections among children in 2017 compared to 18,000 in 2016.
Dr. Victoria said that the country has taken a big step to reduce Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (MTCT) infections.
She said the Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) initiation for children is still low but increasing drastically compared to previous years.
She said that the African National Congress ANC surveillance is still pending to provide the new prevalence.
Dr. Victoria also reiterated that the testing coverage has increased from 248000 in 2016 to 443339 in 2017.
“This is a double effort to achieve the first 90 targets,” Vitoria added.
She said that “the program is prioritizing provider initiated testing and counselling (PITC) testing index, partners testing, and community testing in order to achieve the first 90 UNAIDS target.
UNAIDS estimates that there are 250000 thousand people leaving with HIV in the country, out of which only 24000 are on the ART treatment.