HIV AIDS and Harm Reduction Unit

The HIV/AIDS and Harm Reduction Unit has for responsibility to prevent HIV in line with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Fast-Track strategy to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. UNAIDS is leading the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. The collective vision of UNAIDS underpins these targets: zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS- related deaths.

The HIV/AIDS and Harm Reduction Unit also looks after the different missions and workshops of the Ministry to be attended abroad.

Name Designation E-mail address Telephone Number Fax Number
Mr. D. Dassaye Permanent Secretary 201 2728 201 3340
Mrs. S. Kalasoptan-Chellen Ag. Deputy Permanent Secretary 201 3488 208 1140
Mrs. B. A. Hossen Assistant Permanent Secretary 201 3216 214 9662
Dr. V. Dinassing Director Health Services 201 1473 201 3098
Dr. M. D. Soyjaudah Officer-in-Charge, National AIDS Secretariat 213 9145 201 1897
Dr. N. Sookool Officer-in-Charge, Harm Reduction Unit 210 5787  

Dr (Mrs) S.D.Woodun Annah

Officer-in-Charge, AIDS Unit 212 3224 210 4835

The main function of National AIDS Secretariat (NAS) is to coordinate the multi-sectoral response to HIV and AIDS. Therefore, under this role, the NAS synchronises and integrates all the activities of different actors in the national response including line ministries, departments and agencies, NGOs and Civil Society Organisation amongst others and all resources for the purpose of funding national response (in particular resources from international NGOs or agencies).

It also ensures harmonization of all plans in the country are aligned to that of the Government National HIV Action Plan and that there is a robust Monitoring and Evaluation System under one National AIDS Coordinating body. The NAS organizes development of internal and external guidelines of processes to ensure effective implementation of the response and identifies gaps in the resources and develop strategies to fill them.

It is estimated that about 14,000 persons were living with the HIV in 2021. The HIV prevalence among the key population groups representing the key drivers of the epidemic in the Republic in Mauritius has continued to decline. Between 2010 to 2021, the HIV incidence has declined by 34 %.  Men still constitute the greater proportion of the adults living with HIV despite a more rapid decline in new HIV infections is observed among the men. New HIV infections among children aged 0 – 14 years decreased by 51% during the same period. As per the UNAIDS HIV estimates, between 2012 and 2021, HIV related deaths among all age groups increased by 23% with more men dying than women. However, between the same period, HIV related deaths among children declined by 52%.

The following measures have been undertaken to improve the national AIDS response to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030:

    • A multisectoral, rights-based and patient-centred approach has been adopted to develop the National HIV Action Plan 2023 – 2027 which bears all the stakeholders’ shared vision to achieve zero new HIV infections and zero deaths within a setting of an inclusive environment free from stigma and discrimination.

    • The Multi-Sectoral Committee, chaired by the Minister of Health and Wellness has the main objectives to tackle the cross-sectional issues and tackle the challenges of the programme as HIV is not only a health concern but it is also a developmental issue.

    • Adoption of ‘HIV Testing as Prevention’ – a mix of HIV Testing Services (HTS) is used for HIV screening purposes. The Mauritius HIV Testing Services and Policy has been developed and it includes the use of a variety HIV Testing Service approaches thereby reducing the missed opportunities of people getting to know their status.

    • Further decentralisation of the HIV services which exist at the eight (8) point of care since 2016 through setting up of one additional One-Stop Shop at Bouloux Area Health Centre.

    • The management protocol of the people living with and affected by HIV has been updated. It introduces safer paediatric formulations and earlier infant diagnosis for better health outcomes through improved adherence rate and reduction in AIDS mortality.

    • Integrating HIV services with non-HIV services has started with the management of co-infected HIV-Hepatitis C patients by the doctors of the AIDS Unit. Capacity-building of the HIV doctors in the management of Sexually Transmitted Infections has been carried out to improve the quality care.

    • Combination HIV prevention programmes using a mix of behavioural, biological and structural interventions including treatment as prevention (Test and Treat Strategy). Furthermore, HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission program are being implemented.

    • IEC materials have been developed along with the use of video spots to promote the HIV services and preventive measures such as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.

    • The Integrated Biological and Behavioural Surveillance survey has been conducted in November 2021 to monitor the trend of HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis C and syphilis among men who have sex with men.

    • Technical Working Groups in Behavioural Change Communication, Monitoring and Evaluation and treatment, care and support have constituted to reinforce the collaboration with the NGOs – PILS, AILES, CUT, Parapli Rouz, YQA and CAEC to respond to the needs of the various vulnerable HIV groups.

    • Access to additional fund under the COVID-19 Response Mechanism of the Global Fund has led to upgrading of the services provided by the Central Health Laboratories and communication materials for NGOs not involved in the fight against HIV.

    • The sustainability plan for HIV programmes funded by the Global Fund is being discussed with the National Social Inclusion Foundation which will partly support the NGOs.

The HRU’s vision is mainly to curb HIV epidemics among people who use drugs and break the cycle of drugs by aligning efforts along with all stakeholders concerned toward sustainable drug policies focusing on health, human rights, peace and security.  The Main functions and services provided are as follows:      

  • Needle Exchange Programme;
  • Methadone Substitution Therapy;
  • Drug Prevention Programme;
  • Mass Media Campaign;
  • Rehabilitation and Detoxification Programme; and
  • Psycho-social support and counselling.

he AIDS Unit provides prevention activities and clinical services to People living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) in the country including prison settings and Rodrigues Island. The unit also provides Testing and Counselling for HIV, STIs and viral hepatitis in the community at large, health institutions and workplace.

Moreover, young adolescents are being sensitised early in schools. Pregnant PLHIV are also closely followed from Ante-natal care clinic until delivery. There is ongoing promotion of male and female condoms as primary and secondary prevention. Activities of the AIDS Unit comprise:

  • HIV Testing and Treatment;
  • HIV Prevention Programmes for the Key Populations;
  • HIV Preventive Measures;
  • Community Awareness of HIV and AIDS; and
  • Detection and Treatment of Co-infected HIV/Hepatitis C patients.

A Drug Addiction Unit has been set up in each Health Region. Addiction Units are found at Long Mountain Hospital, Dr. B. C. Hospital – Flacq, Dr. A. G. Jeetoo Hospital, Victoria Hospital and Mahebourg Hospital where all the services provided are based on a combination of psychosocial and pharmaco-therapies including detoxification, after-care and involve family, friends and social workers.

Methadone Substitution Therapy – Over 9,000 People Who Inject Drugs (PWIDS) have been induced on methadone since its introduction in 2006 and as at date around 6,900 beneficiaries are on the maintenance programme and accessing their daily doses at 48 dispensing points throughout the country including the 4 sites within the prisons. In order to offer a comprehensive package of services to methadone beneficiaries, five (5) Drop-in Centres for methadone beneficiaries have been set up in different health regions across the island.

For Needle Exchange Programme, 45 sites are operational throughout the island in areas where there is concentration of Injecting Drug Users. 37 sites are run by the MOHW through mobile caravans and 8 sites are run by NGOs.

Drug Use Prevention programme in various forms were conducted: Awareness and educational sessions in schools ; Sensitisation programmes in the Community; Workplace awareness; Youth Empowerment Programme Against Drugs (YEPAD); and conducting a series of Workshops against synthetic drug and other drugs.

In Mass Media Campaign, the components comprise the following: Rear of bus advertisement, Billboards, TV/ Radio Spots and Online Social Media Platforms (Facebook/ Instagram).

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