UNAIDS lauds Swaziland on curbing HIV viral load

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) has congratulated the Kingdom of Swaziland on achieving over 73 per cent viral load suppression and reduction in general prevalence of the disease .

The UN HIV/AIDS agency said in a statement that  a new study showed the viral load suppression, congratulating U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) for its unwavering commitment to the global AIDS response.

“UNAIDS congratulates the Kingdom of Swaziland on the findings of the Swaziland HIV Incidence Measurement Survey (SHIMS 2) announced by Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini today in Mbabane, Swaziland that 73 per cent of the adult population aged 15 years and older are virally suppressed” UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé said.

This figure is made up of 76 per cent of adult women and 68 per cent of adult men.The survey, part of the Public Health Impact Assessments (PHIA), was conducted with funding from United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Swaziland has demonstrated to the world that shared responsibility and global solidarity produces results.

Working together with PEPFAR and partners, Swaziland is saving lives and on track to control the epidemic”, he stated.

SHIMS 2 findings on viral load suppression among adults of 15 years and older of 73 per cent affirms UNAIDS estimates of 68 per cent.

Compared to the 2011 SHIMS1 survey which had a similar design, the survey results suggest that the rate of new HIV infections among adults (ages 18 to 49 years) has decreased by half from 2.5 per cent in 2011 to 1.4 per cent in 2016 (2.0 per cent for adult women and 0.9 per cent for adult men).

This is similar to the decline in incidence among adult ages 15 to 49 as published by UNAIDS, from 2.5 per cent in 2011 to 1.7 per cent in 2016, it said.

In 2016, UNAIDS estimated that 220,000 people were living with HIV in Swaziland, and that new HIV infections were reduced from 12,000 in 2011 to 8,800 in 2016.

Prevention of mother to child coverage in Swaziland has been between 90 and 100 per cent since 2011 and was estimated to be 95 per cent (81 per cent to less than 95 per cent) in 2016.

As a result, fewer than 1,000 children became infected with HIV in Swaziland in 2016, the UNAIDS chief said.

“UNAIDS welcomes the Swaziland PHIA results as further affirmation of the validity and accuracy of our modeling estimates,” Sidibé said.

In addition to the Swaziland survey, similar data from Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe were gathered through critical household surveys, in collaboration with local governmental and non-governmental partners in 2016.

PEPFAR works with more than 50 countries, to maintain access to life-saving treatment, provide services for orphans and vulnerable children, ensure that the most vulnerable and key populations have access to services to prevent and treat HIV and accelerate progress toward the end of the AIDS epidemic.

HIV viral load is known by measuring the number of HIV virus particles in a milliliter of your blood. Those particles are also known as “copies.” A low viral load is a sign of the virus copying itself in low amounts in the body.

Adama.L