Burkina Faso, located in West Africa, has faced significant challenges that include extreme poverty, community displacement and ongoing HIV transmission. Although there have been improvements in health care and a substantial decline in the country’s overall HIV rates over the past few decades, certain communities remain particularly vulnerable to the disease. Fortunately, the government, international partners and NGOs have been taking the initiative to increase HIV awareness and prevention and improve access to HIV testing and treatment.
Decreasing HIV Rates
Marking a substantial reduction in new infections, the World Bank recorded that Burkina Faso’s HIV incidence rate among people aged 15 to 49 dropped from 4.8% in 1990 to 0.1% in 2021. Furthermore, the country has made significant progress in reducing the HIV prevalence rate, which reached an all-time low of 0.6% among the aforementioned age group in 2021. These milestones highlight the success of increased access to testing and treatment and awareness campaigns aimed at combating the spread of HIV/AIDS in Burkina Faso.
Unfortunately, the disease continues to disproportionately afflict key populations in Burkina Faso. For instance, as of 2021, UNAIDS estimated that sex workers had an HIV prevalence rate of 6.8%, while homosexual men had a prevalence rate of 27.1%. These high numbers highlight the need for targeted interventions and tailored approaches that address the specific vulnerabilities and challenges that these populations face.
Increasing Treatment, Awareness and Health Care Access
According to UNAIDS, Burkina Faso has already made significant progress in increasing access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) and health care services for people living with HIV/AIDS. For example, data reported in 2021 suggest that 84% of adults and children living with HIV/AIDS in Burkina Faso are receiving ART coverage. Additionally, UNAIDs reported a 52% decline in AIDS-related deaths since 2010, a strong indicator of the positive impact that increased access to antiretroviral treatment has had.
According to Integrated Behavioral & Biological Surveillance (IBBS) data published in 2022, 57% of sex workers and 61.4% of homosexual men are now being tested for HIV, becoming aware of their status. Furthermore, the condom use rate among this group has reached 69.5%, indicating a relatively high awareness of condom usage as a preventive measure.
But while these numbers indicate progress, only 18.2% of sex workers have coverage for HIV prevention programs and only 15% of homosexual men have ART coverage.
Fighting for the Future
The low rates of health care coverage among vulnerable communities underscore the need for targeted interventions and enhanced support to ensure that these populations have access to vital prevention services and ART treatment. Addressing this need, the Burkina Faso Government, the Global Fund and health partners are collaborating to advance the fight against HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases and strengthen Burkina Faso’s health systems. In 2021, the partnership announced the allocation of four new grants, from 2021 to 2023, to accelerate HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care. Furthermore, the partnership is working to ensure sustained investments and collaborative efforts to achieve lasting change in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Additionally, Frontline AIDS and Initiative Privée et Communautaire de Lutte Contre le VIH/SIDA (IPC) are collaborating to advance this mission by providing funding, training and technical assistance for 113 community-based organizations in Burkina Faso. In 2019, IPC’s HIV prevention initiatives reached more than 40,000 people, of which 27,000 were sex workers. The organization has also enabled more than 28,000 marginalized individuals to receive testing and know their HIV status.
Ongoing Interventions serve as valuable models for addressing the challenges of HIV/AIDS in Burkina Faso and promoting the well-being of its most vulnerable communities. Continued efforts to strengthen partnerships, invest in targeted interventions and guarantee access to comprehensive health care services for all present hope for long-term progress.
– Freya Ngo