Swaziland Records World's Highest HIV/AIDS Prevalence, U.N. Envoy Says
March 22, 2004
Swaziland has recently recorded the world's highest HIV/AIDS prevalence, surpassing nearby Botswana, U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis said on Friday, Reuters reports. Approximately 38.6% of adults in Swaziland are HIV-positive, according to Reuters. Lewis said that Botswana's HIV/AIDS prevalence has declined from 38.8% to 37.5% of its adult population because of efforts to fight the disease, whereas Swaziland's rate has remained stable. Botswana has "tackled AIDS head-on," using donations from the United States and other sources to supply HIV-positive individuals with antiretroviral drugs, according to Reuters. Lewis spent three days in Swaziland, during which time he met with Swaziland's King Mswati III to discuss the country's HIV/AIDS epidemic. Lewis lauded Swaziland's efforts to provide antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive people but said that the country should provide blood tests to every individual who uses a medical facility, according to Reuters. "I'm not counseling action in the streets, but with HIV/AIDS you have to be forceful with political leaders," Lewis said, adding, "You can even be forceful with kings. You are fighting for your survival, for God's sake." Lewis said that during his last trip to Swaziland four years ago, "60% to 70% of the beds at Mbabane government hospital were filled with AIDS patients." He added, "Today, doctors said the figure is 90%. It is a manifestation of the havoc brought by the pandemic" (Reuters, 3/19).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.