SEYCHELLES — Seychelles is gearing up to host a crucial gathering in the fight against HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and addiction.
The 19th Indian Ocean Colloquium on these pressing health issues is scheduled for November 13-14, themed “HIV at the heart of integrated, accessible care.”
Dr. Anne Gabriel, chairperson of the National AIDS Committee, announced this significant event. She shared that Seychelles eagerly accepted the responsibility to host the colloquium after receiving Cabinet approval in April. The commitment to host the event was made during the previous colloquium held in 2019.
The participating countries in this regional collaboration include Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, Reunion, and Comoros.
During the upcoming three-day discussions, representatives from these nations will deliberate on the current status of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and addiction within their respective borders.
Seychelles, which detected its first HIV case in 1987, has reported a total of 1,398 cases since then, with 907 cases among men and 491 among women.
Dr. Gabriel emphasized that despite recommendations made during the last meeting in Mauritius, Seychelles still has work to do in achieving the set targets.
One such target is the UNAIDS goal known as “95-95-95” to be achieved by 2030. This ambitious objective entails that by 2030, 95 percent of all people living with HIV should know their HIV status, 95 percent of those diagnosed with HIV infection should receive sustained anti-retroviral therapy, and the same percentage of those on anti-retroviral therapy should achieve viral suppression.
The Annual Health Sector Performance Report for 2022 indicated that out of 988 people known to be living with HIV in Seychelles, 630 are male, and 327 are female.
Remarkably, 90 percent of them are on treatment, marking a significant milestone as Seychelles achieved one of the UNAIDS “90-90-90” targets in 2022.
However, challenges persist. The report revealed that there were 72 new cases of HIV in 2022, with 64 percent affecting males and 36 percent females.
Tragically, there were 27 deaths among individuals living with HIV in 2022, significantly exceeding the pre-pandemic average.
Testing challenges remain a concern, particularly for the diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections. Dr. Gabriel acknowledged that while community testing has improved, there is still room for enhancement, emphasizing the continued commitment to tackling these pressing health issues.
As Seychelles takes the helm in hosting the 19th Indian Ocean Colloquium, it seeks to drive forward the collective efforts against these health challenges in the region.