South Sudan to strengthen national response to HIV/AIDS – UNAIDS

New York, US (PANA) - The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Deputy Executive Director of Programmes, Dr. Luiz Loures, on Wednesday welcomed South Sudan’s renewed commitment in fighting the rate of new infections in the world’s youngest nation.

"These efforts are a testament to the resilience of the South Sudanese people and a clear sign of their desire to achieve a viable independent State," PANA quoted Dr. Loures as saying following a meeting in the capital, Juba, with President Salva Kiir.

He recalled that in 2012, an estimated 150,000 people were living with HIV in South Sudan, with AIDS-related deaths almost doubling from 6,900 in 2001, to 13,000 in 2012.

He also noted that of those who were eligible for life-saving anti-retroviral therapy under the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 2010 guidelines, just 9 per cent had access.

"Only 13 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV had access to services to prevent transmission of the virus to their child," the UNAIDS official added.

Dr. Loures emphasized the need to firmly engage the armed forces in the response to HIV.

On his part, President Kiir acknowledged the necessity to tailor HIV services to the needs of young people, noting that, "if they are left vulnerable, there will be no country".

UNAIDS stated that it had been working with non-governmental partners to provide condoms to the South Sudanese military in a bid to tackle the high rates of infection among soldiers, estimated at over four per cent.

It said that in an effort to tackle this trend, the army established an HIV Secretariat in 2006.

PANA learnt that Dr. Loures also addressed the UN peacekeeping mission troops deployed to South Sudan working with UNMISS.

He highlighted the responsibility that peacekeepers have in preventing gender-based violence and sexual exploitation in their operational zones.

The UNAIDS official also met with other government officials during his visit, as well as UN development partners.

The population of South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in July 2011, is largely made up of young people.

According to the World Bank, more than half of the population is under the age of 18, and 72 per cent is under the age of 30.
-0- PANA AA 2Oct2013

02 Outubro 2013 18:56:22

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