Statistics fortunately show that HIV/AIDS has not hit
as hard in The Gambia as in other parts of Africa after
the first case was diagnosed in the country in 1986.
The HIV/AIDS prevalence among adults aged (15 to
49) in The Gambia is 1.8% [1.5% - 2.2%] (2015
Results from the sentinel studies have firmly established
that HIV1 is now the main virus driving the epidemic
in The Gambia; whilst HIV2 seems to be on the decline.
Like in most of sub-Saharan Africa heterosexual intercourse
is the main mode of HIV transmission.
The first round of the National Sentinel Surveillance
for HIV among antenatal women was conducted between
May 2000 and August 2001[pdf] in four health
facilities, namely Serrekunda, Sibanor, Farafenni
and Basse. The number of sentinel sites was later increased
to six in 2002 (adding Brikama and Kuntaur) and eight
in 2005 (adding Essau and Soma).
The 2004 sentinel surveillance data indicated that HIV1
prevalence amongst 15 to 49 year old pregnant women
has increased at most sites. There is limited data on
prevalence among high-risk groups, including sex workers
who had a prevalence of 14% for HIV1 in 1993 and 28%
in 1993. Furthermore, lack of data on the prevalence
of HIV in other key groups such as uniformed personnel,
long distance truck drivers, fishermen, etc. may mask
the true extent of HIV infection rates in the Gambia.
The UNDP has worked
in partnership with the Gambia Government to combat
HIV/AIDS for over 10 years and it helped to put awareness
of the disease on the national agenda through the National
AIDS Control Programme (NACP). The main aim of the project
is to assist policy development and reinforce partnerships
and national capacities in a sustainable way that alleviates
not just HIV but also poverty. A National
AIDS Secretariat was established, and being supported
by the World Bank.
The aids awareness campaign involves billboards, aids
prevention messages during strategic TV programmes,
workshops, seminars and the production of educational
materials targeted at all sections of Gambian society.
Today between 35-50 youth and women's groups are supported
through the campaign.
Because of the engagement of local musicians and NGOs
in the project's execution there is a higher level of
awareness in the public at large and particularly among
youth groups about the the causes and consequences of
HIV/AIDS and STDS.
UNGASS Report, 2005