Swaziland HIV

The first case of HIV was reported in Swaziland in 1986. The virus swiftly took hold and today Swaziland has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world, having overtaken Botswana.

The figures are alarming ~ one in four of all adults is infected, whilst infection rates amongst 20-30year olds are approaching 50%. The most recent World Health Organization data records that 61% of all deaths in the country were caused by HIV/AIDS.

In fact, 2% of the entire population of Swaziland is dying through HIV every year ~ a situation so dire that

the United Nations has noted that if the infection rate continues unabated the Swazi population will be wiped out in the forthcoming decades.

Unlike many other African countries where the very existence of HIV / AIDS was ignored, Swaziland responded swiftly by setting up the Swaziland National AIDS Programme (SNAP) which launched campaigns aimed at providing information and education on HIV, the promotion of the use of condoms and the screening of all donated blood.

In 2005 the World Health Organisation praised Swaziland for its "high level of political commitment" in managing HIV in the country.

Some of the methods, however, could be deemed extreme. For example in 2001 the king forbade men from sleeping with teenage girls for the next five years to help stem the spread of the virus and in 2009 one member of the Swaziland parliament suggested that there should be a compulsory AIDS test for every Swazi and those infected should be marked with a permanent logo on their buttocks.

The MP stated "before having sex with anyone, people will have to check their partners' buttocks before proceeding". This particular idea did not gain widespread favour and was not implemented.


Swaziland HIV

Swaziland HIV

Swaziland HIV

Swaziland HIV



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HIV numbers in Swaziland

Swaziland HIV This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

As a result of the initiatives already undertaken, including planned ones such as circumcising between 125,000 and 175,000 HIV negative males from 15 to 49 years of age in a 12 month period, the spread of HIV now seems to be levelling out, although 18,000 new infections are expected yearly; 3% of the population.

Swaziland HIV PosterAlthough treatment programs are being rolled out, HIV remains a stigma and causes family rejection so many do not tell their partners they are infected and others do not attempt to find out; passing on the virus in ignorance.

The HIV situation in Swaziland, however, is inevitably more than facts and figures; its the implications of those facts and figures. When those of a working age die from HIV / AIDS or become too sick to work, they generate less income and therefore less food for their families, leaving them in a poorer condition to cope with the illness.

The high death rate, giving a life expectancy in Swaziland of just 49 years, means that 39% of the population is now aged under 14yrs, leaving 100,000 children orphans and with the deaths of skilled professionals, there are serious shortages in the country's ability to cater for food security, economic growth and the provision of health and educational services. Many of these children now head up households without even grandparents to help out as the over 65 yrs population is just 3% of the country's total.

These video documentaries explore HIV in Swaziland and its impact there.


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