Namibia Launches Campaign to Prevent HIV Spread

Namibia’s Ministry of Health and Social Services (MHSS) on Thursday launched the Undetectable equals Untransmittable (U=U) campaign aimed at preventing the further spread of HIV among young people.

Speaking at the launch in Windhoek, MHSS Deputy Minister Esther Muinjangue said the U=U sensitization campaign is intended for all adolescents and young people living with HIV as well as those that are HIV-negative.

“Namibia continues to prioritize young people’s health. We are hoping for a brighter future for our youth, a future with reduced HIV infections and fewer AIDS-related deaths,” she said.

HIV treatment is safer and more effective than ever, especially now with the discovery and introduction of dolutegravir-based regimens, the most effective antiretroviral (ARV) medicine at suppressing viral load, she said, adding that if adolescents and young people living with HIV know that their viral load is suppressed and that they can’t transmit the virus through sex, then they will be encouraged to remain on treatment.

However, people need to be reminded that ARV medicines do not cure HIV infection or remove the virus from the body, but, when taken as prescribed, they can stop the virus from multiplying, she said.

According to Muinjangue, ending AIDS involves concerted efforts from everyone including the youth and this is just one of those efforts.

“The youth are the agents of change in the fight against HIV through their efforts to create awareness and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS and other social challenges such as gender-based violence and substance abuse among the youth of Namibia. I hope that the collaborative efforts employed here will help attain the campaign objectives and ensure the messages reach as many young people as possible,” she said.

Latest estimates from the MHSS show that 86 percent of persons living with HIV, aged 15-64 years, know their HIV status, and of these, 96.4 percent are on ARV therapy and 91.3 percent of these are virally suppressed and no longer spreading HIV.