By Ijoo Bosco Modi
An increase in HIV/AIDS infections among adolescents and youth in Eastern Equatoria state of South Sudan is worrying.
International Centre for Aids Care and Treatment Program, (ICAP), an organization managing HIV/AIDS in Eastern Equatoria State, has expressed.
The organization termed the new insurgence in HIV infection a threat in the fight against the disease.
ICAP coordinator in the state, Dr. Joseph Ofuho explained that HIV prevalence now stands at over forty percent of all new infections, mostly among 15- 30-years old persons.
“As a state with this presentation, Eastern Equatoria has got the number of people living with HIV at about six thousand five hundred and six currently on treatment as of June this year,” he said.
“As we can imagine, this is actually a threat in our state, but it needs the support of the Ministry of Health in order for us to curb this epidemic,” Ofuho added.
The state coordinator described the alarming records as a serious threat against useful manpower in Eastern Equatoria State.
He stressed that one of the ways of curbing the epidemic is through program review, to assess data to see where they are as a state currently.
The state Minister of Health, Koteem Thomas Piya applauded the ICAP organization for their tremendous services in the counties.
Mr. Koteem noted that the rapid increase of the epidemic is due to the influx of different people from the neighboring nations bordering South Sudan and the poor state of living among communities.
Minister Koteem urges health partners in the state to coordinate and raise community awareness about HIV/AIDS prevention to combat the deadly epidemic spreading like wildfire.
He assured health partners of cooperation and to work together to analyze their strengths and weaknesses in service delivery, despite limited resources.
For his part, the acting Director General in the state health ministry, Tobia Magezi Omal praised ICAP as a leading NGO in the HIV/AIDS sector, promoting treatment, testing, and advocacy.
Magezi noted that ICAP has made efforts towards HIV prevention over the past year, embracing biomedical approaches such as Test and Start strategies, condom programming, and high-impact interventions to eliminate mother-to-child HIV and syphilis transmission.
He lamented that the efforts exacted were well demonstrated by ICAP initiatives within the six counties of Torit, Magwi, Ikwoto, and the three Kapoeta counties, with the exception of Budi, Lafon and Imehejek administrative areas.
Magezi added that the war on HIV and AIDS will be won through evidence-based interventions, and it is crucial to identify and provide antiretroviral therapy for 90% of those diagnosed, as not everyone currently on ARVs is on them.
The Global Progress Report by UNAIDS confirms that attainment of 95 percent targets may be an uphill task if interventions are not scaled where new infections and stigma levels are concerned.
He also expressed concern over insecurity and bad road infrastructure within the state counties, coupled with limited funding, and urged a relook at the financing models to ensure a sustained resource base for HIV and AIDS response.
The official made the remarks in a two-day quarterly performance review meeting over the weekend.