Foundation for Community Support Services (FOCUS), a local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), has expressed satisfaction with the increase in number of people living with HIV and Aids joining support groups in Chitipa District.
Speaking Saturday during a training session of peer educators at Chitipa Boma, FOCUS Executive Director Cosam Munthali said many people living with HIV in the district are now openly disclosing their sero-status to the public unlike in the past.
He said the development is contributing to the reduction of HIV and Aids prevalence rate in the district.
“As FOCUS, we have for the past year registered an increase in the number of support groups from 15 to 34 that comprise 40 to 50 members.
“These groups are acting as our role models, as they provide counseling to members of the general society, a development which is helping to reduce the spread of the disease,” Munthali said.
He attributed the development to increased sensitization by stakeholders, which he said has also helped to reduce stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV.
FOCUS, with financial support from the Global Fund, through ActionAid Malawi, is implementing a two-year project in Chitipa called Investing for Impact against HIV and AIDS. The project is aimed at reducing transmission and mortality rate among communities.
Chitipa District Aids Coordinating Committee chairperson, Bishop Silent Mtambo said HIV prevalence rate has decreased from 3.7 percent in 2015 to 3.1 this year.
Mtambo added that it is the aim of the district to fulfill government’s strategy of ensuring that 90 percent of Malawians should know their status, 90 percent of people living with the virus are on antiretroviral therapy (ART), and that 90 percent of them achieve viral suppression.
Meanwhile, 4864 people living with HIV are on ART in the district.
The training which was aimed at equipping the peer educators with knowledge of counseling, drew 40 participants from five Traditional Authorities (T/As) of Nthalire, Kameme, Mwenemisuku, Mwaulambia and Mwenewenya.
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