News / Africa

Senegal Vigilant Against HIV/AIDS Despite Success

A male patient lies in a ward that specializes in the treatment of AIDS at a hospital in Dakar, Senegal Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005.A male patient lies in a ward that specializes in the treatment of AIDS at a hospital in Dakar, Senegal Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005.
x
A male patient lies in a ward that specializes in the treatment of AIDS at a hospital in Dakar, Senegal Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005.
A male patient lies in a ward that specializes in the treatment of AIDS at a hospital in Dakar, Senegal Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005.
Anne Look
DAKAR – The global public health community has praised Senegal for its early and effective response to HIV/AIDS since the country reported its first cases in 1986.  For the past 15 years, infection rates have remained, on average, below one percent.  
 
In 1985, two Senegalese doctors went to see their country's president, Abdou Diouf. 
 
HIV/AIDS had only been discovered a few years earlier, and the two men had just documented an alarming 12-percent rate of infection among sex workers in Senegal, where prostitution is legal and regulated.
 
Countries with Highest Percentage of 15 to 49-year-olds living with HIV/AIDS:

1. Swaziland 25.9%
2. Botswana 24.8%
3. Lesotho 23.6%
4. South Africa 17.8%
5. Zimbabwe 14.3%
6. Zambia 13.5%
7. Namibia 13.1%
8. Mozambique 11.5%
9. Malawi 11.0%
10. Uganda 6.5%

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2009 estimates
They were Professor Souleymane Mboup, who would become world-renowned for his research on the HIV-2 strain of AIDS which is common in Africa, and Dr. Ibra Ndoye, the physician who would go on to head the National Council Against AIDS and devote his life to fighting the disease.
 
Dr. Ndoye says they presented their findings to President Diouf, who listened and then replied: "You are the experts.  We trust you and we are behind you.  Tell us what we need to do and we will do it."  Dr. Ndoye says this support was nothing short of exceptional, as it would be at least a decade before many African leaders emerged from their denial about the disease and its impact.
 
That meeting marked the beginning of what has been praised as one of the most effective HIV-prevention campaigns on the planet.  
 
Global AIDS Figures

  • People Living with HIV
    Adults - 30.1 million
    Children - 3.4 million
  • People newly infected with HIV in 2010 - 2.7 million
  • AIDS deaths in 2010 - 1.8 million

Source: WHO
In 1986, Senegal was one of the first African countries to create a National Council Against AIDS to coordinate its efforts.  The council's first order of business was to protect the nation's blood supply by putting in place systematic screening of donated blood and to train health workers about the disease.  
 
Very early on, government officials appreciated the importance of getting access to anti-retroviral drugs.  Senegal was one of the first African countries to negotiate hefty price cuts from multi-national pharmaceutical countries and to promote the use of ARVs among infected patients. 
 
Since 1997, Senegal's HIV/AIDS prevalence rate has been below one percent, even as infection rates in other African countries skyrocketed to 15, even 25, percent. 
 
Dr. Ndoye says Senegal saw early on that HIV was a very complex, even diabolical, virus.  He says they realized a vaccine was a long way off, so they focused on prevention.  He says they had the support of the government but they also enlisted civil society and religious leaders.  Senegal is a very religious, majority-Muslim country, he says, and it was key to involve the religious leaders so they would not fight against the use of condoms.   
 
Dr. Ndoye notes from the beginning, Senegal adopted what is now known as the ABC strategy: Abstinence, Be Faithful, Use a Condom.  Though religious leaders have opposed condoms, some imams now make an exception for HIV-positive people who have relations with their spouses.   
 
Senegal also became one of the first countries to integrate instruction about how to avoid contracting HIV in its secondary school curriculum.  The United Nations says cultural norms in Senegal also discourage premarital and extramarital sex.
 
Despite Senegal's low national average, rates of infection remain elevated among high-risk communities.  UNAIDS, the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, says infection rates hover over around 20 percent for female sex workers and men who have sex with men.  Homosexuality is illegal in Senegal and punishable by fines and jail time.  Homophobia has undermined prevention and screening efforts among gay men. 
 
Dr. Ndoye says Senegal, despite its successes, must remain vigilant.
 
He spoke with VOA by phone from southeastern Senegal in late June where he was wrapping up a tour of five regions that are reporting infection rates of more than one percent. 
 
Dr. Ndoye says they are there to shake things up and remind the local population and regional AIDS councils that one percent is considered the threshold level of an epidemic.  He says on a national level, they need to take the taboo out of subjects like prostitution and homosexuality to fight high rates of infection among those communities.  He says they are trying to anticipate all routes of infection - including an emerging trend of intravenous drug use - that could spread the virus to the general population. 
 
Among gold miners in the Tambacounda and Kedougou regions, for example, he says they have found infection rates of 1.3 percent.  It's a red flag, as mining communities have been hotbeds of HIV transmission in other countries, like South Africa.  
 
Dr. Ndoye says the epidemic must be attacked on all fronts and this is “no time to rest our heads on our past achievements."
 

You May Like

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs