National Health Minister Yolanda Awel Deng. (Courtesy photo)

South Sudan records increased HIV/AIDS infections

The national minister of health on Thursday revealed that South Sudan has seen an increase in new HIV/AIDS infections this year compared to 2021.

The national minister of health on Thursday revealed that South Sudan has seen an increase in new HIV/AIDS infections this year compared to 2021.

Yolanda Awel Deng was speaking in Juba at a function to commemorate World AIDS Day, designated on 1 December every year since 1988, as an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.

She said HIV/AIDS remains a disease of public health concern in South Sudan and that for every 100 people tested, 2 are found to be infected.

“An estimated 173,000 people are living positively with HIV the virus,” Minister Awel said.

She revealed that the disease has spread across the country.

“The virus is across the country with varying levels of transmissions. The highest (prevalence) is in Western Equatoria followed by Lakes and Unity states,” Awel revealed. “While the lowest transmissions are in Warrap and Upper Nile states respectively.”

According to the health minister, a big number of people are not aware of their HIV status because they are afraid to go for testing.

“Last year the country recorded 17,000 new infections and 8,000 dead,” Awel said.

She encouraged citizens to test and find out their status saying the government has made significant progress in making testing services and antiretroviral drugs available.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the South Sudan HIV/AIDS Commission, Esterina Novello, said poor funding of the commission hindered their work.

“Donor funding for HIV programs has flattened out in recent years which limits the ministry of health and HIV/AIDS Commission’s ability to achieve universal access and sustained progress,” Novello said. “The budget allocated to the commission is very low, therefore we urge the ministry of finance to help increase the budget.”

In the recently passed budget for the 2022/2023 fiscal year, the ministry of health was allocated SSP 34.7 billion.