While most people live healthy lives, a considerable variety of diseases and other afflictions affect Namibians. The most common maladies are respiratory infections (such as influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis), gastric infections (such as diarrhoea and gastroenteritis), malaria, malnutrition, violence and traumas, alcohol and other addictions, poisoning, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, cancer and bilharzia. Rarer diseases include rabies, plague and measles.
At the time that this atlas was being compiled, Namibia and the rest of the world was caught unprepared for the flu pandemic caused by the coronavirus of 2019 (COVID-19). It will take years for Namibia to recover from the economic and social costs of the measures put in place to control this disease.
9.31 HIV infection rates among pregnant women, 1992–201649
Rates of HIV infection in women aged 15–49 years attending antenatal care services in public health facilities rose rapidly in the 1990s. It peaked in 2002, and then slowly declined and levelled off at about 17 per cent. These recorded changes reflect changes in infection rates in the population as a whole.
9.32 HIV infection rates in 2011/12
HIV testing was conducted on the general population in Namibia for the first time in 2011 and 2012, when HIV prevalence among 15–49-year-olds was estimated to be 13.4 per cent. Infection rates among younger people aged 15–24 years averaged 3.6 per cent, much lower than those of older people: 14.0 and 16.4 per cent among 25–49- and 50–64-year-olds, respectively. In general, women had higher infection rates than men, but especially in urban areas and among rural people aged 25–49 years.
An estimated 185,000 people (about 8 per cent) younger than 65 years were living with HIV in 2017, when prevalence rates varied from 7.9 per cent in Kunene to 17.9 per cent and 22.3 per cent in Ohangwena and Zambezi, respectively.50