HIV and AIDS continues to cause health havoc in Africa with governments spending millions of dollars trying to contain it. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), HIV and AIDS has claimed over 32 million lives and about 37.9 million people live with it. In Africa alone, approximately 25.7 million people are living HIV positive.
Although progress is happening to curb this life-threatening illness, Africans need to harness a couple of things to reduce opportunistic infections. Below are four recommendations to fight new HIV and AIDS infections.
Offering free HIV and AIDS tests
2020 is the deadline year for Super-Fast-Track to reduce new pediatric HIV infections globally. However, lack of sensitization and testing results in tens of thousands of new HIV cases. In fact, in 2018, more than 770,000 people died out of HIV-related causes.
Although HIV and AIDS testing is voluntary and free in most African countries, loads of people still fear or ignore the importance of being examined. Africans should take it upon themselves to regularly test for HIV and AIDS.
Hospitals should also consider making HIV testing mandatory for patients seeking specialized treatment. Doing this would undoubtedly reduce the number of new infections and ensure people know their status. It would also help those found positive start taking the antiretroviral drugs ( ARV) in good time.
Pregnant women Mandatory HIV and AIDS testing
in Kenya, HIV testing is compulsory for all pregnant women visiting hospitals for pregnancy check-ups. This makes it easy for health experts to introduce antiretroviral therapy (ART)to patients who test positive. Also, the testing of expectant mothers provides crucial information to surgeons during a cesarean section delivery. It again helps midwives observe top-notch caution to ensure there is no mother-to-child transmission of HIV and AIDS during birth. In the same breath, it allows physicians to acquaint HIV positive mothers with ways and the importance of keeping the newborn safe.
Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC)
Since the beginning of 2007, male medical circumcision has been seen as an additional way to reduce the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection. According to WHO, circumcision dwindles the chances of sex intercourse infections by approximately 60%. In countries or communities that don’t practice circumcision, educating them on the health benefits coming with male circumcision would undoubtedly reduce cases of new infections.
Use of contraceptives
Sex is a significant contributor to new HIV and AIDS infections. In the north and central Africa, sex partners account for more than half of new HIV infections in Africa. Lack of sensitization on the importance and benefits of using contraceptives has been a pain in the neck in the fight against HIV.
The use of quality-approved condoms guarantees safe sexual intercourse by more than 85%. However, access to quality contraceptives is often a challenge in most African communities.
African governments ought to make efforts to provide free contraceptives to their citizens. In a country like Kenya, all public Hospitals and tertiary institutions offer free condoms. This is something African nations should emulate if at all, we are to win the war against new HIV infections.
While the above tips can reduce cases of new infections, sensitization is the key takeaway point. Ideally, loads of people don’t clearly understand some of the other causes of HIV infections apart from sexual intercourse with an infected person. As it is, anal sex can also cause HIV, as well as the sharing of syringes. As for the people living positive, HIV and AIDS is manageable. All that is needful after you find out you are HIV positive is to start taking ARVs and avoid having unprotected sex to prevent further infections.