The story of our lives

Vusi Maziya
Original Article:

Since the first case of HIV was reported in the country in 1986, the virus has spread at an alarming rate, even though trends appear like we have stabilised. Swaziland has the highest HIV prevalence in the world at 26 percent.

HIV and AIDS have had a devastating impact on the country; particularly among families and households, with 6 813 adult and child AIDS-related deaths in 2011. According to the latest figures, life expectancy is just 48.9 years, one of the lowest in the world.

As elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, the impact of so many AIDS-related deaths in Swaziland exacerbates existing poverty for families, and has resulted in a very youthful population. More than a third of the population are under 14 years old and only 5.9 and 4.7 percent females and males respectively are over 65. Currently, we are one of just five sub-Saharan African countries to achieve the target of getting more than 80 percent of eligible people on antiretroviral treatment (ART). Among pregnant women, treatment access is also high at 83 percent.

Consequently, the number of AIDS-related deaths is declining.Vulnerable groups at risk of HIV infection include: sex workers, migrant populations, prisoners, men who have sex with men (MSM) and injecting drug users (IDUs).

Latest estimates show that over 70 percent sex workers are living with HIV, expressing the lack of access to HIV services for such groups. Gender based violence is also still not showing signs of abating with around a third of adults believe violence against a woman is justified in certain instances.  

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