Juba, 24 November 2017: South Sudan took an important step in the global fight against HIV/AIDS with the launch of a new ‘Treat All’ and HIV Testing guidelines to end AIDS. South Sudan also joins the countries in Africa to have implemented Treat All recommendations among adults and adolescents in more than 50% of treatment sites in the country.
These guidelines provide a road map for South Sudan to end AIDS by 2030, through the provision of services delivery closer to people’s homes; expedite reporting of test results; integrate HIV treatment more closely with antenatal, tuberculosis, drug dependence and other services; and use a wider range of health workers to administer treatment and follow-up care.
Sub-Saharan African continues to be the region most affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic with nearly 26 million people living with the infection and nine out of ten of all children living with HIV/AIDS in the world found in the region. In addition, 1.4 million individuals get infected with the disease every year and there were almost 800 000 deaths due to HIV in 2016 alone.
Despite the continuing severity of the epidemic in the region, huge strides have been made towards meeting the 90-90-90 targets (90% of the people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of the people who know their HIV status receiving ART and 90% of the people receiving ART having suppressed viral loads).
Dr Pinyi Nyimol, the Director-General Preventive Health Service in the MoH demonstrated strong government commitment to ending the suffering of South Sudanese people due to HIV/AIDS. He acknowledged WHO’s and other partners support towards treating and preventing HIV infection and the care for people living with HIV and appealed for support from government, donors, implementing partners, people affected and infected with the disease, civil society and private sector to make the dream a reality – ‘an AIDS free nation’.
The ‘Treat All’ guidelines aim to ensure a sustained scale up towards achieving universal health coverage, through promoting innovative public-private partnerships for increasing access to antiretroviral drugs and strengthening health and community systems (Boma Health Initiative) to deliver comprehensive and quality services.
The HIV Testing Services guidelines lays out practice standards as well as strategies to improve access in those at risk and those most vulnerable with limited access including young people aged 15-24, adult males and people from key populations.
Dr Moses Mutebi Nganda, Medical Officer for HIV/AIDS, underlined that “the fight against HIV/AIDS is not only fighting the diseases, it is about fighting poverty; stigmatization; marginalization as well as preventable suffering; and death”. It is hoped that the implementation of the two guidelines will go a long way to making South Sudan free from AIDS.