Malawi has managed to reduce new HIV infections with current figures indicate that new infections now stands at 35,000 per year from 52,000, the country’s Ministry of Health (MoH) has said.
In an interview (MoH) spokesperson Henry Chimbali disclosed that the reduction in the new HIV infections are mainly attributed to an increased number of people living with HIV who are on Anti Retroviral (ARVs) drugs, high condom use and and the inclusion of option B plus in Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme.
Chimbali said condom use is one of the main interventions in influencing behavior change and evidence has shown that in the country there has been high condom use.
“Actually the ministry has always had condom supply short falls because of the high demand which is there. It is also encouraging to note that our partners who are selling branded condoms are making a lot of sales,” he said.
Population Services International (PSI) recently said it has sold 140 million condoms since 1994.
“If one buys a condom, they don’t waste it unlike someone who gets it for free so if our partners like PSI are selling so many condoms it means many people are having safe sex thereby reducing new HIV infections,” said Chimbali.
He, however, said the current 35,000 new HIV infections is still on the higher side.
“As a ministry we urge people and partners not to relax. Our momentum to fight HIV is still high and we will continue investing in HIV interventions to achieve zero new infections,” Chimbali said.
Malawi Health Equity Network Executive Director Martha Kwataine said if these figures are true, the country is moving into the right direction in the fight against HIV and Aids.
“This means we are improving on behaviour change which has been a major contributing factor in the fight against HIV and Aids. But, still the battle can only be won if we 100 percent do away with new infections,” she said.
While recognizing that the current ART programmed may and is playing a role in reducing infections, Kwataine said it must be appreciated by all that prevention is better than cure.
“Medication has own side effects after being taken for sometime. For a country whose ART programme is 100 percent donor funded through Global Fund, we can only show our commitment towards the HIV and Aids fight by adopting healthy lifestyles that don’t pre dispose us to HIV and
Aids,” she added.
Kwataine said as a country Malawi needs to aim higher and go farther than what has been done and have interventions that produce high impact in reduction of new infections.
Currently Malawi has an estimated one million people living with HIV and half of them are on ART.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :