Alarming rate of ARVs defaulters among women in Nsanje

Friends of Aids Support Trust (FAST) has embarked on a campaign in Nsanje district mobilizing men to take a leading role in the fight against gender based violence and new HIV and Aids infections.

Aids patients urged not to default ARV treatment
Aids patients urged not to default ARV treatment

Score Project Officer, Mweta Katemba said in an interview they are rolling out the project following rampant reports of GBV cases among women in the district.

He said gender based violence has  had a hand on HIV and Aids transmission citing cultural practices in which men are hired for sexual cleansing as one of the cases of GBV facing the women.

Katemba said they are targeting men as they have misconception of knowing everything thereby abusing women leading to gender based violence besides encouraging new HIV and Aids infections.

“Here in Nsanje, there is an issue of sexual cleansing; women are forced to sleep with hired men as a result women are prone to contracting HIV and Aids.

“Not only that, once they are forced to do such sexual cleansing, they are sexually abused. So we want to mobilize men so that they can know that they have responsibility of protecting women from contracting the pandemic.

Katemba revealed that the initiative will try to address gender based violence that encourages the spread of HIV and Aids such as defilement which is rampant in the district.

He further explained that according to court records, cases of defilement in the district are rampant and men are the most perpetrators. He said he believe that engaging men will try to address issues of GBV but also new cases of HIV and Aids.

Nsanje District Health Office HIV and Aids Coordinator, Mac Knowledge Tembo commended FAST for the campaign aimed at stopping incidents of Gender Based Violence among women in the lower shire district through the Score project.

Tembo deplored high HIV and Aids treatment default rate especially among women which he described as worrisome as 35 percent of the people who were put on treatment have been lost to care.

Tembo said the situation is putting a strain on efforts to achieve the 90-90-90 goal which among other things seeks to reduce the HIV and Aids transmission by ensuring that 90 percent of the people on treatment should have their viral load suppressed.

“Lack of support on the part of men is a major contributing factor for most of the women who are on HIV and Aids care to default treatment. About 35 percent of the women who were put on treatment have been lost to care.

“In some instances, in situations of cell discordant where a woman tests positive, some men have been divorcing their wives.

“ I am sure that engaging men to take a leading role in the fight against HIV and Aids could help iron out such problems. Therefore, the Score project will help to address such issues,” said Tembo.

The UNAIDS 90-90-90 target calls on countries to reach the following goals by 2020; 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy,  90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

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