Despite numerous efforts to control the spread of HIV/AIDS, it remains a major public health concern and the main cause of death in many parts of Africa.
Sub-Saharan Africa alone accounts for 69 percent of all people living with HIV globally. In 2011, the region accounted for 70 percent of deaths caused by AIDS.
But even with these alarming statistics, a significant number of African countries are slowly winning the war on HIV/AIDS by putting measures in place to reduce the rate of new infections.
A study done by the World Bank in 2011 showed that countries in North Africa and the Horn of Africa have significantly lower HIV rates compared to countries in the southern African region.
The lower prevalence rate in these countries is largely attributed to the fact that their populations typically do not engage in high-risk cultural practices that are associated with the spread of HIV.
With Thursday being World AIDS Day, Face2Face Africa looks at the top African countries that have controlled the spread of HIV/AIDS.
As an Arab and Muslim state, Morocco has made great strides in establishing its own HIV research programs. Only 2 percent of the country’s 32 million people are HIV-positive according to a study done by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. This is largely attributed to the population’s restraint from engaging in high-risk practices such as prostitution. Transmission between mother and child is also significantly low.
Studies show that the number of Libyans infected with HIV stands at 70,000, representing just 1.13 percent of the total population. Researchers say that there is a slight increase in HIV infections in the country, but the percentage is minimal compared to other African countries in the sub-Saharan region. The slight increase in HIV infections is attributed to the influx of refugees and migrants from other parts of Africa as well as the intravenous use of drugs and other risky behaviors.
With a population of at least 82 million people, Egypt has one of the lowest HIV rates on the continent. According to studies done by the National AIDS Program (NAP), there are only 1,155 people living with HIV in Egypt, which is about 1 percent of the country’s total population. Apart from avoiding high-risk practices, intervention by the Egyptian government through national strategic plans has played a critical role in maintaining the low prevalence of the virus in the country. However, the country still faces numerous challenges in fighting this epidemic and needs to develop an effective national HIV/AIDS education and awareness program.
2. Somalia & Somaliland
Only 0.9 percent of Somalia’s 10.5 million citizens are estimated to be HIV-positive, which is considered to be extremely low compared to neighboring countries, such as Kenya, Ugandan, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. High-risk behavior, such as prostitution and casual sex, is rare in Somalia, which is predominantly Muslim. However, factors such as drought and war have resulted in the displacement of people to regions where HIV prevalence remains high. HIV stigma is also very high in Somalia, preventing those who are infected from seeking medical care.
With a population of 39 million people, Algeria is currently ranked as one of the top African countries that have managed to maintain a low HIV prevalence rate for a long period of time. A report published by the the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in 2011 showed that only 18,000 Algerians are HIV positive, which represents only 0.1 percent of the total population. While abstinence from high-risk behaviors has been a major reason why, the government has also played a significant role in promoting social mechanisms that have helped address the epidemic.