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90% of HIV-positive children in the Ohangwena Region have their viral load suppressed to the extent that the virus is no longer detectable.

The United States Agency for International Development in Namibia says levels of viral load in nine out of 10 children with the virus are below detection levels.

This is reassuring news for parents and caregivers, which is attributed to general strict adherence to ARV therapy and other support services provided by Project Hope's Namibia Adherence and Retention Project.

As of June this year, the project supported 24 821 orphans and vulnerable children across Namibia, of which 7 871 were HIV-positive and on treatment. Of those, approximately three-quarters are virally suppressed.

The Namibia Adherence and Retention Project is funded by PEPFAR, through USAID, and targets orphans and vulnerable children in eight high-burden HIV regions.

These are the Ohangwena, Kavango East, Kavango West, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Zambezi, and Khomas regions. 
Additionally, the programme provides components of economic strengthening to help reduce the financial vulnerability of families and empower them to meet their essential needs. 

The project is further combined with other activities led by the Ministry of Health and Social Services, such as transitioning children to newer and better medication and enrolling them in peer-supporting teen clubs, among others.

When one is virally suppressed, it means that HIV cannot be detected in their blood and that one cannot infect others anymore.

The Acting Country Representative of USAID, Vann Rolfson, noted that having nine out of 10 HIV-infected children below the detection level or virally suppressed is another step for Namibia to reach the UN 95-95-95 goals.

The 95% target is that the HIV-positive population knows their status, 95% are on treatment, and 95% of those positive have a suppressed viral load.

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Photo Credits
Harvard Medical School

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July Nafuka