Ethiopia faces an epidemic of HIV/ AIDS with an estimated overall prevalence rate of one percent of the total population, the Federal HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office (FHAPCO) has disclosed.
Briefing journalists on Monday, 2 December 2019, Daniel Betru, who is the FHAPCO Public Relations and Communications Director, said the HIV prevalence rate varied from 0.1 percent in the Somali regional state to 6.0 percent in the Gambela regional state of the country.
He said HIV prevalence in urban areas remains high, with about 3.2 percent infection rate this year from 4.7 percent a decade ago.
According to the director, the virus hit Gambella, Harara, Amhara and Beneishangul Gumuz as well as major cities. The capital Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa were the most affected.
Ethiopia has a large and very vulnerable population, with an estimated 29 percent of the population living below the poverty line. HIV/AIDS is one of the key challenges for the overall development of Ethiopia, as it has led to a seven-year decrease in life expectancy and a greatly reduced workforce.
The country has observed remarkable progress over the past two decades in reducing its HIV prevalence rate from 3.3 percent in 2000 to 0.9 percent in 2017. AIDS-related deaths have also reduced from 83 000 deaths in 2000 to 15 600 in 2017, Betru said.
However, the gains made so far seem to be challenged by complacency regarding primary HIV prevention. The current HIV epidemiology of the country is heterogeneous, with significant variations in the burden of HIV across geographic areas and population groups.
He said HIV prevalence at the national level is currently around 1.2 percent, which can be referred to as an epidemic.
The urban HIV prevalence is seven times higher than the rural HIV prevalence. Among the regional states, HIV prevalence ranges from 6.0 percent in Gambella to below 0.1 percent in Somali.