News / Africa

HIV in South Sudan Army Twice National Rate

An aid worker [C] talks to Sudanese soldiers and scouts on how to spread the message on HIV/AIDS at an internally displaced camp in Juba, southern Sudan, October 2005. (file photo)An aid worker [C] talks to Sudanese soldiers and scouts on how to spread the message on HIV/AIDS at an internally displaced camp in Juba, southern Sudan, October 2005. (file photo)
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An aid worker [C] talks to Sudanese soldiers and scouts on how to spread the message on HIV/AIDS at an internally displaced camp in Juba, southern Sudan, October 2005. (file photo)
An aid worker [C] talks to Sudanese soldiers and scouts on how to spread the message on HIV/AIDS at an internally displaced camp in Juba, southern Sudan, October 2005. (file photo)
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Bonifacio Taban
— The HIV infection rate among soldiers in the South Sudanese army is nearly twice the national average, the head of the country's AIDS Commission has said, citing recently released data.

Esterina Novello Nyliok, the head of the South Sudan AIDS Commission, said data from 2012 show the HIV rate in the SPLA, the South Sudanese army, stands at five percent, or nearly double the national rate of 2.6 percent.

The commission gathered data for the first time in 2012 about the rate of HIV infection in the armed forces, she said.

Dau Aleer Abit, the commander of the SPLA’s medical corps, said many soldiers do not take steps to prevent HIV transmission, but added that the SPLA is working to increase awareness among soldiers about how HIV is spread.

The number of HIV awareness units will be boosted from 20 to 43, he said. Each unit will be stationed at a base and will be staffed by nine officers, who will be recruited from within the ranks of the army.

The units provide anti-retroviral drugs for HIV-positive soldiers and test for the virus, among other services, but, Abit said, soldiers don't avail themselves of the services of the units on a regular basis, largely because of the stigma and shame associated with being HIV-positive.

"The stigma that somebody is labeled to have HIV, usually makes people shy away" from testing, he said.

Nationally, South Sudan saw a drop in the rate of infection with HIV/AIDS in 2012, from three percent to 2.6 percent, government statistics released in March show. 

The country has set itself the goal of having zero new infections and zero AIDS-related deaths by 2017.

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by: Koma Lioga from: Pageri Payam, Magwi Count
May 07, 2013 3:41 AM
its sad to see rate of HIV/AIDS infection for our national army has doubled national rate. More efforts should be put in place to educate our national army population including their families. I wish to attribute this our national army population that, most sex workers operate in the country are not trusted. They should avoid going to them or make proper and consistent use of condoms. Our government needs to establish an ACT that will restrict commercial sex workers especially those operating near barracks. Those found positive should not give up since that is not the end of life. They should rather turn to be counselors or peer educators so that, their colleagues change. If they tend to revenge, one should know that your revenge will come back to you directly or indirectly to family members hence will make hard to win the battle. For us to attain set goal by our government, collective responsibility is paramount.
My final word is let us encourage and support HIV/AIDS patients and stop called them "victims". I have seen in many a time, they are called victims which is bad connotation making them to shy away or take revenge.
I worked as HIV/AIDS project officer with one of our CBOs back in the village and our target group was "commercial sex workers". with this name, they were hiding since one told me doing such business is not Lawful. it forced them to hide. This to me has great impact as far as HIV/AIDS virus transmission is concerned as our people get their ways to reach them including our armies. For example in Nimule,in my own assessment at checkpoint in 2011, the out come was that, people make contribution to go for one sex-workers and prefer not to use condoms. She cited comparison some of their customers gave was, "How can you enjoy eating sweets with its cover". This is an indicator that, lot needs to be done.

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