GABORONE, Aug 19 (Xinhua) -- Botswana plans to eradicate HIV by 2020, a decade earlier than a target set by the United Nations, the African country's health minister said Friday.
Botswana continues to put strategies in place to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the country where the disease continues to wreak havoc, killing thousands on a yearly basis, said Dorcas Makgato, Minister of Health and Wellness.
Botswana, in southern Africa, is experiencing one of the severest HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world. In 2016, it had a HIV prevalence rate of 21.9 percent among adults aged between 15 to 49, the third highest in the world after Lesotho and Swaziland, and has a population of around 360,000 living with HIV, according to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS).
"We are making a lot of investments into fighting HIV/AIDS," said Makgato during the relaunch of a campaign aimed at addressing HIV issues in Francistown in east Botswana.
"Our aim is to eradicate the endemic by 2020. We believe fervently that this project has tremendous potential for the youth of Botswana," she added.
Since 1997, Botswana has been significantly proactive in combating the epidemic. Under the leadership of former President Festus Mogae, Botswana introduced a program in 1999 to prevent mother-to-child transmissions.
On June 3, 2016, Botswana adopted the Treat All strategy to provide antiretroviral therapy to people living with HIV, as part of an intensifying fight against the disease.
HIV/AIDS threatens many developmental gains Botswana has achieved since its independence in 1966, including economic growth, political stability, a rise in life expectancy, and the establishment of functioning public educational and health care systems.