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Press Release

Oct 23, 2008
Namibians taking steps to prevent HIV

Windhoek, Namibia. More Namibians are getting tested for HIV, young people are waiting longer to start sexual activity, and use of condoms has increased, according to the new 2006-07 Namibia Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) just released today. At the same time, the HIV epidemic continues to ravage the population. Adult mortality has increased, and one in four children is orphaned or sharing households with very ill adults.

Half of Namibian women have been tested for HIV compared to only 24 percent in 2000. Even more important, two-thirds of women who gave birth in the last two years were tested and received their HIV results during antenatal care visits. This finding reflects the Namibian government’s concerted efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus. Men are far less likely to be tested for HIV than women.

Another positive finding is that young men and women are delaying the start of sexual activity. The proportion of young men who said they had sex by age 15 declined from 31 percent in 2000 to 19 percent in 2006-07. Similarly, the proportion of men age 18-19, starting sexual activity by age 18, has fallen from 74 to 61 percent. The same trend is occurring among women, but the decline is slighter.

Although higher-risk sex is still common, many more Namibians are using condoms to protect against HIV infection as well as pregnancy. The percentage of all Namibian women using condoms for family planning has increased dramatically from less than 1 percent in the 1992 to 9 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2006-07. Condom use is particularly high among sexually active women with no children. Half of sexually active women with no children who use contraceptives rely on condoms. Many more women are also purchasing condoms from shops rather than waiting to get them from clinics.

Despite these encouraging trends, the AIDS epidemic is claiming many lives. Adult mortality has increased markedly since 2000, especially among women. Female mortality has doubled, and male mortality has increased by 65 percent. Deaths among women age 25 and above are considerably higher in 2006-07 than in 2000. Maternal mortality has also increased although the overall numbers are small.

One in six children (17 percent) under age 18 has lost one or both parents, and another 11 percent are considered vulnerable because they live in households with very ill adults. The proportion of orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) increases with age from 15 percent among children age two to 40 percent among those age 15-17. OVC are less likely than other children to have their basic material needs met and are more likely to be underweight. They are as likely to be in school as other children, however.

The 2006-07 NDHS interviewed 9,800 women and 3,900 men age 15 to 49 nationwide. The survey was conducted by the Ministry of Health and Social Services with technical assistance from Macro International. The survey was funded by the Government of the Republic of Namibia, USAID, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEFPAR), the Global Fund, the Chinese Government, UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO, and DFID through a SADC project.

Additional information regarding the NDHS 2006-07 can be obtained from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Private Bag 13198, Windhoek, Namibia,

Tel: (264-61) 203-2544/5, Fax: (264-41) 272-286

Email: doccentre@mhss.gov.na, http://www.healthnet.org.na/