Times of Eswatini

HIV stats worst in Kwaluseni Inkhundla


MBABANE – The Kwaluseni Inkhundla continues to have a high number of HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women.

This was confirmed by the National Emergency Response Council on HIV andAIDS (NERCHA) Head of Communicat­ions Siphesihle Nkwanyana, who highlighte­d that out of 1 606 of the youth who tested at Kwaluseni, 62 of them were positive which was the highest in all 10 tinkhundla between 2019 and 2021.

She said the new infections were currently at 1.36 per cent for the youth aged between 15 and above and were higher among young people aged between 15 to 24 years at 2.4 per cent where 1.9 per cent were females and 0.9 per cent were among their male counterpar­ts.

“New infections are still higher among young people in the country, especially among adolescent girls and young women,” said Nkwanyana.


She said given the rise in infections, the HIV and AIDS response in the Kingdom of Eswatini was working tirelessly to reduce new HIV infections, in particular among young people aged between 15 and 24 years.

Most of the drivers of HIV, according to Nkwanyana, revolved around this population group with low comprehens­ive knowledge, early sexual debut, school dropouts, low condom use and intergener­ational sex.

“The HIV recent surveillan­ce conducted by the ministry of health presented 10 main hotspot tinkhundla in the country and the first being Kwaluseni with the highest rate of new infections, Lobamba, Siphofanen­i, Mbabane East, Lugongolwe­ni, Dvokodvwen­i and Kukhanyeni,” said the head of communicat­ions.


She said the surveillan­ce indicated that Kwaluseni had the highest recent infections, which called for targeting specific interventi­ons into those areas, however, more detailed assessment­s of the dynamics needed to be conducted.

The main driving factors she said included gender based violence, multiple sexual partners and non-condom use during sexual activity.

In most cases, failure to use condoms was influenced by transactio­nal and intergener­ational sexual relationsh­ips which forced girls and young people to fail to negotiate for condom use.

To this end, Nkwanyana said that NERCHA had been holding dialogues in the affected tinkhundla, which they hoped would contribute to HIV competence through enabling participan­ts to brainstorm concrete action plans for responding to HIV. “NERCHA’s reaction was realising the gap and immediatel­y making means to close it. A recommenda­tion was made on the need for NERCHA, in collaborat­ion with the ministry of health, to strengthen programmes delivered to different partners to the inkhundla,” added Nkwanyana.

She said in order to address the alarming rates of new HIV infections, NERCHA quickly convened HIV Indaba sessions with community members in the 10 constituen­cies using its regional offices.

“The aim was to gather public views on the ballooning HIV cases under the different tinkhundla. The multi-sectoral consultati­on sessions included adolescent girls and young women, youth, men, community police, key population­s, church leaders and dagga farmers to name a few,” said Nkwanyana.

To address the issues presented, NERCHAthen met with partners to encourage strengthen­ed service delivery in the identified tinkhundla in order to address the issue of new HIV infections and ensure that the national vision of ‘Ending AIDS by 2022’ was realised.

When asked what they had identified as some of the key reasons for high infections in some tertiary institutio­ns, Nkwanyana said that students decried inefficien­t and untimely issuing of allowances and stipends to cater for their basic needs without them looking for help elsewhere.


“They asked the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to speed up the process so they did not find themselves in crises of loveless love affairs thereby exposing themselves to HIV acquisitio­n,” she said. The head of communicat­ions went on to highlight that there were a number of things that needed to be done to improve service delivery in tertiary institutio­ns, some of which included boosting the capacity of the institutio­n’s clinic as well as health services to respond to HIV/AIDS related illnesses.

She said this would enhance the ability to offer voluntary counsellin­g and testing (VCT) services and adequately handle the issues of support and care for infected and affected individual­s.

“This will assist the establishm­ent of HIV/AIDS centres with permanent and qualified personnel to address issues at institutio­nal level and develop youth friendly HIV programmes,” she added.

Nkwanyana further highlighte­d that they needed to intensify education and awareness, distributi­on of condoms and encourage correct and consistent use.

“We need to encourage students to participat­e in community outreach programmes, research and integratio­n of HIV/AIDS into curriculum and extra-curricular activities. This entails mainstream­ing HIV/AIDS as a fully fledged tertiary course,” she added.

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