By Desta Gebrehiwot
Ethiopia has seen a massive drop of HIV -AIDS transmission rate over the past years with the total prevalence rate reaching 1.2 percent , but it also feared that the epidemic might resurface due to complacence and increasing negligence. The country has come a long way to eradicating the diseases where the government, and other organization mobilized the public collectively. However, the momentum is ata stake according to recent figures.
While the national rate is insignificant, the epidemic is higher in some areas and population groups. Paradoxically, the ongoing efforts are far from enough compared to the looming threat posed by the epidemic .
Prevention receives less attention in the initial response to the epidemic. Instead, the focus has mainly been determined to treatments and cares. That is why all the participants agree that raising the awareness of core risk groups such as female commercial sex workers and truck drivers. It is this way that the country would be able to save its energetic and very young population that holds a brighter future for the country.
With global donations remaining in short supply , much of existing financial aid is being used for cares and treatments rather than prevention works. This is what led the Federal HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office (HAPCO) to organize a two-day consultative forum.
The forum agreed that HIV-AIDS prevention activities have appeared to be very negligible though the epidemic posed huge threats in some parts of country with productive and sexually active groups still remaining vulnerable.
Huge junk of the financial donations are being allocated for care and treatment services undermining prevention activities. Less prevention means higher HIV rate which consequently put the country into great socioeconomic crises .
While the national HIV status appears to be declining nationally, some areas whose population is sexually active group yet carries huge burden with new infection on the rise
There is an ill-conceived attitude among the general public that AIDS is in decline while many more people are dying and contracting the disease, said Kifele Metku adding that the rate is very high in pregnant women , students of higher learning institutions, working group, heavy -truck drivers and inmates and segments of society .
Mobility of people, especially of young people to large scale development schemes have been becoming hotbeds for spread of HIV. New infection have been recently on the rise with the risky behaviors
What makes the matter worse is that these vulnerable groups have less awareness towards the disease and prevention mechanisms.
HAPCO General Director Shalo Daba for his part said that the general HIV prevalence rate is approximately 1.2 percent but this does snot necessary show that this is that same to the whole parts of the country. Yet high rate of HIV is being detected in some rural and urban areas.
The prevalence rate varies significantly among population groups, and geographic areas. In this regard, multi-sectoral and collective efforts are needed to curb the epidemic.
The country has previously succeed to decrease the rate because of collective efforts, this has to resume. Government, non-governmental local and international organizations, the private sector, media people and the community at large should come together to matter the issue a public agenda and raise awareness
Participants of the forum also expressed their concern that the more the issue is neglected the more the disease could spread. They stressed the need to particularly work in bringing behavioral changes among the youth and other vulnerable segments of society.
Global donors also seem reluctant to pump more resource to fighting the disease while the available one continues to be allocated for treatments and cares as the price for anti-retro viral proves exorbitant. In this regard, building local capacity and according more attention to prevention activities are best option to eradicate the epidemic. To sum up, as the saying goes “A stitch in time saves nine!” prevention is the best solution of disease eradication.
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