Botswana Has 17.1% HIV Prevalence, President Mogae Says
HIV prevalence in Botswana is 17.1%, lower than figures previously reported by UNAIDS, Botswana President Festus Mogae said Monday, Xinhua/People's Daily reports. "The figures that used to be used by the U.N. were based on sample surveys on expectant women, which were not adequately represented," Mogae said (Xinhua/People's Daily, 10/18). The country's Ministry of Health has said that about 38.5% of the adult population is HIV-positive, while a 2006 UNAIDS report said the country's adult HIV prevalence is about 24%. International advocacy groups report that life expectancy in the country has decreased to an average of 34 years, and CIA data show that the country has a negative population growth curve (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/28). According to Mogae, more than 75,000 people in Botswana are HIV-positive, and more than 68,000 of them are receiving antiretroviral treatment with government assistance (Xinhua News Agency, 10/18). Botswana also has changed its HIV testing policy so that routine testing is conducted in clinics and hospitals and people are given the option to opt out of testing (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/13). Mogae said an increasing number of women are receiving HIV tests, with about 85% to 90% of pregnant women agreeing to be tested and large numbers agreeing to receive antiretrovirals. "As a result of the increased compliance, the number of babies born to HIV-positive mothers has fallen from 40% to a registered 6%. That has been a dramatic improvement," Mogae said (Xinhua/People's Daily, 10/18).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.