CAMEROON—Cameroon has witnessed a decline in HIV prevalence among adults aged 15 to 64 years over the past 14 years, as indicated by the recently released Demographic Health Survey 2018 (DHS).

The research reveals a notable decrease from 5.4% in 2004 to 4.3% in 2011 and further down to 2.7% in 2018.

Additionally, there is a projected estimate of 480,232 individuals living with HIV in 2022, with 9,905 new cases documented that year.

Despite the persistent concern about HIV/AIDS as a significant public health issue, there is encouraging progress outlined in the report, showcasing a 50% decrease in HIV prevalence.

Dr. Hamsatou Hadja, the permanent secretary of Cameroon’s National AIDS Control Committee, attributes this decline to a concentrated strategy.

This strategy is aligned with a national vision, aiming to eliminate AIDS as a public health issue by 2030. The overarching goals include reducing new infections, deaths, and the stigma associated with HIV.

According to the committee, the country is making progress towards meeting the global “95-95-95” target set for 2022, which emphasizes that 95% of people with HIV should know their status, 95% of those aware should be on treatment, and 95% of those on antiretrovirals should have a suppressed viral load.

Support from the World Health Organization (WHO) has played a crucial role in reducing Cameroon’s HIV burden.

In 2022, WHO sent HIV experts to 36 health institutions across 14 health districts in the country’s East and Littoral regions, training around 200 health workers in various aspects of HIV care.

Moreover, nearly 20,000 individuals were tested for HIV, with 545 of the 590 who tested positive receiving treatment.

Sergine Nyaviene, a care assistant and psycho-social expert at Tigaza Catholic Health Centre, is among the health professionals benefiting from WHO training.

She underlined the training’s good impact on staff attitudes and the quality of HIV care as the number of people living with HIV assisted by the center grows from 65 in 2020 to 158 by October 2023.

Before the training, Nyaviene recalls being unable to advise her patients on living with someone with HIV, dispelling misconceptions about infection risks within households, or assuring HIV-positive mothers that breastfeeding is safe.

The ongoing efforts of WHO involve collaborating with health authorities in Cameroon to develop a people-centred approach to differentiate HIV services.

Dr. Gilbert Tchatchoua, a WHO Country Office expert, underscores the importance of organizational policies combating disparities to accelerate access to HIV services.

In 2022, the screening of vulnerable populations, such as men who have sex with men (MSM), female sex workers (FSW), and internally displaced people (IDPs), resulted in 190 MSM and 245 FSW beginning treatment.

Stigma and discrimination persist as major challenges, prompting the need for community awareness campaigns, as emphasized by Dr. Tchatchoua.

He stresses that grassroots communities play a vital role in achieving the goal of eliminating AIDS as a hazard to public health by 2030.

This collective effort involves fostering understanding within communities that HIV is an illness like any other, necessitating medical attention.