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HIV Prevention in Namibia Should Focus on Behavior Change, Reducing Stigma, Health Minister Says

November 12, 2008

HIV prevention efforts in Namibia should "put more emphasis" on changing behavior and reducing HIV-associated stigma and discrimination, Namibian Health Minister Richard Kamwi said recently at a one-day meeting on the National HIV/AIDS Prevention Strategy in the Namibian capital of Windhoek, The Namibian/ reports.

The meeting aimed to bring attention to HIV prevention programs as a foundation for the country's fight against the virus. Kamwi said that HIV prevalence is increasing despite a "number of prevention and management programs" and investment from the Namibian government, development groups, the private sector and civil society. Kamwi added that health workers must "redouble" efforts focused on increasing HIV testing and counseling and preventing mother-to-child transmission. Kamwi said that although he is impressed that about 80% of HIV-positive pregnant women in the country receive antiretrovirals to prevent MTCT, all women should have access to PMTCT. "There is no reason why we should fail on what we know is working," he said.

According to Kamwi, there have been between 204,000 and 300,000 HIV/AIDS cases in Namibia since the virus was first detected in the country two decades ago, and about 3,790 people have died of AIDS-related causes since March (The Namibian/, 11/10).

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