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 said.
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 Instagram: @aidshealthcare.