The aid group Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) has tested more than 10,000 people for the HIV virus in Yambio area over the last year or so and is treating those found positive.
MSF says that 414 of the people they tested are HIV positive and of those 330 have begun treatment.
The western part of the Equatoria Region has the highest HIV rate in South Sudan as it shares a porous border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, where HIV rates are usually higher.
MSF says the objective of their Yambio project is to give access to the more isolated communities. “During the rainy season, it is extremely difficult for us to move in certain remote areas,” explains project coordinator Daniele Regazzi. “But that is not the only complication. The conflict has made access to some communities impossible as whole villages have fled from their homes. It is important that we make contact with them and ensure that those who need drugs get them”.
Because of the insecurity, MSF is setting up an adaptable network amongst the villages of the area in case they are cut off. “If an area becomes inaccessible, a designated community health worker from that village will be responsible to meet our medical teams and bring back a supply of antiretroviral drugs for patients,” MSF said in a statement.
1 December marks World Aids Day. The disease is treatable using antiretroviral drugs which must be taken consistently in order to be effective. “An interruption of the provision of treatment against HIV can have terrible consequences on the health of a HIV-positive patient,” describes Daniele.
This article is republished courtesy of Radio Tamazuj, a daily news service and current affairs broadcaster covering South Sudan, the southern states of Sudan, and the borderlands between the two countries.