The fourth edition of “AIDS in Ethiopia,” an update on the current information available on the HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia, was released on Wednesday.
The new edition put the HIV prevalence in Ethiopia for 2001 at 6.6 percent, which is less than the prevalence of 7.3 percent presented in the third edition. The new edition, however, emphasized that the decrease in the percentage is in no way an indication that the HIV epidemic in the country is declining.
“It is to be noted that this change in national HIV prevalence does not imply that the HIV epidemic in Ethiopia is declining. The current estimation is a combination of possible stabilization of the epidemic, a result of more extensive surveillance data and the classification of Estie [a rural town in Amhara region] as an urban site,” said the executive summary of the fourth edition, which is published by the Disease Prevention and Control Department of the Ministry of Health
The new edition is based on data from 34 sites, of which 28 are urban and 6 are rural.
“Urban HIV prevalence rates continue to be high at 13.7 percent while the HIV prevalence for rural areas remains relatively low at 3.7 percent. HIV prevalence for Addis Ababa is estimated to be 15.6 percent. The number of persons living with HIV/AIDS in 2001 is estimated at 2.2 million, including 2 million adults and 200,000 children. Approximately 10 percent of these or 219,400 are full-blown AIDS cases.”
“The highest prevalence of HIV is seen in the group 15 to 24 years of age, representing ‘recent infections’. ”
Meanwhile, the first HIV/AIDS resource center, which will provide up-to-date and accurate information on HIV/AIDS for various stakeholders working on the area, was inaugurated here.
HIV/AIDS Resource Center Ethiopia, according to the coordinators, would also serve as Ethiopia’s main source of information on the epidemic “that is sweeping through the nation of 67 million.” Services at the counter include a comprehensive multi-media reference collection, high-speed computer terminals with Internet access, audiovisual equipment and databases of local and international HIV/AIDS organizations and funding opportunities. “With local HIV/AIDS stakeholders, the center plans to develop behavior change communication materials on prevention, voluntary counseling and testing,” a statement from the coordinators read.
Having access to accurate and current information is key to halting the spread of the virus, according to Dr. Tadesse Wuhib, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Ethiopia. “Young people and adults need to be educated and informed about HIV/AIDS so that they can protect themselves and care for those who are infected or affected,” he said.
According to the coordinators, the center is free to users affiliated with any government agency, media organizations or NGOs, working on HIV/AIDS issues. They also said that once the center is fully operational, center partners are considering expanding to other regional sites that will be networked through the main resource center in Addis Ababa. There are also plans for an expanded audio-visual unit, additional databases, and a national HIV/AIDS telephone hotline, it was learnt.
HIV/AIDS Resource Center Ethiopia is established by Ethiopia’s HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Program (CCP), Analytical Science, Inc. (ASI) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A total of 1.5 million USD in funding for the center has been made available through a five-year cooperative agreement between CCP and CDC, which is responsible for HIV/AIDS prevention in the United States and assists other countries in developing, implementing and evaluating HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment programs, organizers and representatives of the funding centers said at a press briefing prior to the inauguration ceremony.
An additional fund of USD150 thousand in year one of development of voluntary counseling and tasting (VCT) materials, and USD 245 thousand for years one and two for IT and database development would also be available, they said.
Government officials, and representatives of CCP and ASI, Hugh M. Rigby, CCP Senior Associate Project Director Population Information Program and Jesse Milan, Jr. JD, Vice President of Health Communications ASI, US attended the inauguration ceremony.