MANZINI, Swaziland--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The AIDS
Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global HIV/AIDS
organization, congratulates Swaziland on its recent HIV/AIDS response
milestone. Data presented at the International AIDS Society (IAS)
Conference on HIV Science in Paris reveals that new HIV infections in
Swaziland have fallen by 44%, and over 73% of people living with HIV in
the country now have an undetectable viral load.
According to the Joint
United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Swaziland has an HIV
prevalence rate of 28.8%, with about 220,000 of its people living with
HIV. With this remarkable achievement, lowering the number of new HIV
infections, Swaziland has joined a select list of countries who are on
track to achieving UNAIDS 90-90-90 Fast-Track goals.
“This is indeed a true reflection of the situation in Swaziland and I
would definitely attribute it to improved treatment coverage and
commitment on the part of both the government and partners like AHF who
daily work to ensure that access to treatment is not hampered,” enthused Dr.
Nduduzo Dube, Country Program Manager AHF Swaziland.
“In 2008, Swaziland embarked on a major task-shifting exercise; training
nurses to initiate Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), and commenced the
decentralization of ART services to the most remote areas of the
country. The MOH also ensured that there were no stock-outs of ARV
drugs; as a result there was no delay in treatment initiation and no
interruption of treatment,” he added.
Since 2007, AHF has supported the government of Swaziland through the
Ministry of Health to provide free HIV testing and treatment services to
those who need it and has pioneered innovative approaches that have
contributed to the success of Swaziland’s HIV/AIDS response.
“AHF was one of the pioneers of the Outreach Testing program through
it’s One Million Tests Campaign in 2008, the Ten Million Tests Campaign
in 2009 and the Rapid Testing Program (RTP), all of which helped boost
Swaziland’s HIV testing coverage,” said Terri Ford, AHF’s
Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy.
As AHF prepares to mark its 10 years of service delivery in Swaziland,
this news serves as an icing on the cake, for an organization whose
quest for global AIDS control continues to drive its vision.
“In Swaziland, AHF provides care and treatment to over 26,000 people
living with HIV. Remarkably, since December last year AHF Swaziland has
been running routine viral loads for our patients and I am proud to
announce that a cross sectional analysis of the cohort has shown viral
suppression between 92-94% over the last 6 months,” explained Dr.
Penninah Iutung, AHF Africa Bureau Chief. “Viral suppression in
HIV/AIDS patients is a key element in helping break the chain of new
infections, as individuals successfully on treatment and with low viral
loads are much less likely to pass on the infection to their partners.”
“We are indeed proud of Swaziland’s recent accomplishments, a testament
to the fact that political will and treatment accessibility can help us
bring the epidemic under control. It is a lesson for all of us,” she
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS
organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over
807,000 individuals in 39 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin
America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn
more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org,
find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth
and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and
AHF AFRICA MEDIA CONTACT
Manager PR and Communications – Africa Bureau